THE Ministry of Transport is to purchase additional engines for the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC), to ensure efficient and safe transportation of goods and passengers on the lake..
Mr Mike Hammah, the Minister of Transport, who made this known at a durbar to launch the inland water transport safety education campaign at Yeji, said $2 million out of a $3 million World Bank funding would be used for the exercise.
Mr Hammah said the decision by the ministry to purchase the new engines was a clear demonstration of how the ministry and the government attached great importance to transportation on the Volta Lake and for that matter other inland waterways.
The inland water transport safety campaign, which is an initiative of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) in conjunction with the ministry, is to educate all stakeholders on the lake, especially boat operators and passengers, on safety and other related issues to help minimise accidents on the lake.
Mr Hammah announced that the ministry intended to introduce the first batch of fibre glass boats into the system as soon as arrangements for the necessary funding materialised, in view of the scarcity of hard woods such as Kusia and Odum for the construction of boats.
He gave the assurance that the ministry was working around the clock to ensure that the removal of tree stumps in the Volta Lake, which has also been identified as one of the causes of accidents on the lake, begins by the end of April, this year.
Mr Issaka Peter Azuma, the Director-General of the GMA, said since its establishment in 2007, the authority had undertaken several measures to improve safety on the lake and had also helped to reduce the rampant spate of fatal boat accidents.
He added that his outfit, in conjunction with the ministry, had also launched an inland Water Safety Code, since part of the problem was lack of safety awareness among boat owners, operators and the travelling public.
He stated further that the authority had signed an agreement with the Regional Maritime University to run training programmes for boat operators and outboard motor mechanics and so far over 690 people from six boat centres including Yeji had benefited from the programme.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Pru Constituency, Alhaji Masoud Baba Abdul-Rahman, for their part lauded the ministry for the swift response to repair the broken-down engine of the only pontoon that serves as a means of transport on the lake between Yeji and the northern part of the country.
Mr Yussif Appeh Apetrogbor, a representative of Yeji Boat Owners and Operators Association, appealed to the government to help remove the tree stumps in the lake to prevent accidents.
Pemampem Yaw Kagbrese V, Omanhene of Yeji Traditional Area and Vice-President of the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs, who chaired the durbar, appealed to the government to provide the naval task force team stationed at Yeji with speed boats to enforce safety measures on the lake.