Coastal communities and those living along the country’s major inland waterways have been sensitised to prioritise safety in order to protect life and property.
The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) as part of its mandate took its sensitization clinic to many coastal communities, including those along the Volta Lake.
The Authority has been undertaking ambitious programmes to reduce water transport-related accidents as well as keep the banks inland waterways and the beaches clean. Some of communities included Kpando-Tokor, Kete Krachi, Dambai amongst others.
Led by the Deputy Director, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Richard Lartey, the GMA official drawn from the Public Relations unit sensitised the people on the effects of pollution and the need for strict adherence to all safety protocols in their voyages.
The activities started with a clean-up exercise at Kpando-Tokor at the banks of the Lake, followed by a durbar.
Dr. Lartey said “We know the navy officials have been around to ensure safety on water travels. We are here to re-echo to all present that the Authority is keen on ensuring that safety is not compromised,” he said.
“The issue of overloading for instance, should be a thing of the past. My dear brothers and sisters, when a boat operator tells you to sit at the edge of a boat so he makes more money please tell him it is a risk and do not listen. It is for your own safety,” he stressed.
Dr Lartey emphasised the importance of life jackets. “When you are sitting in a boat from one point to another please wear your life jacket and your nose mask.
“We know the discomfort with wearing a nose mask but it will save you from contracting COVID-19 and save your life just like the life jacket will do for you in case there is an accident.”
Togbe Gbadagbali whose ancestry was the first family to settle at Tokor commended the Authority for finding the resources to remove tree stumps from the Volta Lake. School children and farmers can now travel safely, he said.
However, “We plead with the Ghana Maritime Authority to help construct a proper landing site for our boats. The landing sites where our boats dock upon return from fishing expeditions have been eroded by recent floods,” he said.
Burkinabe and Togolese nationals who live along tributaries of the Volta Lake in the two countries use the Tokor route to Eastern and Ashanti regions, making the Tokor route on the Volta Lake a key transport and logistics transiting point with Ghana’s West African neighbours as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) headquartered in Accra, comes into force.
At Kete Krachi and Dambai, small focus groups made up predominantly of fisher folk and a few market women were organized at the banks of the Lake with the assistance of a local resource person Jacob Kabore Tetteh, who is the executive secretary to the National Inland Canoe Fishermen Council.
The navy team, assemblyman and youth of the area, clad in their GMA-branded T-shirts joined in cleaning the area.
Dr Lartey and Mr Tetteh addressed the people in local language advising boat operators to observe the dynamics of the weather and not operate when they realize the weather is not conducive.
‘The Authority is also concerned about operators who keep faulty spare motors on their boats. You deceive no one. In the event the motor being used develops a fault midstream and the spare motor is also faulty you put your life and that of passengers at serious risk’ he counseled.
He said, from 2021, the Authority would be taking a critical look at the boat registry. Unregistered boats will not be allowed to do business on our waterways.
The MCE for Krachi North, Patrick Charty Jilima, graced the occasion at Dambai and expressed his gratitude to the Authority for the initiative.
The GMA team donated rakes, brooms and waste bins to all the communities after each clinic.