The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has initiated a programme to mark load lines on boats which operate on the Volta Lake to reduce the spate of accidents on the lake.
Load lines are markings embossed on boats to indicate their maximum passenger and cargo carrying capacities.
About 300 boats which currently operate on the Volta Lake at Yeji are expected to be marked and licensed.
The maritime safety programme was designed to ensure that fishermen and boat owners ply their trade devoid of accidents.
Officials of the GMA, led by its Director-General, Mr Peter Issaka Azuma, and a team of surveyors and other professionals marked the load lines on boats at Yeji, a predominantly fishing community in the Pru District.
A durbar which heralded the team’s visit was also used to sensitise fishermen, boat operators and passengers to the dangers associated with the abuse of the rules and principles of navigation safety on the lake.
Addressing the people, Mr Azumah said the GMA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, was working to secure better landing stages in the form of jetties to avoid people having to wade in the water when they embarked or disembarked from boats.
He explained that efforts were being made to provide new cross-lake ferries and river crafts to replace defective boats and recalled that two new ferries were provided last year, with more to come in the coming years.
He expressed worry about times when cross-lake ferries withdrew their services, saying that during such moments, some boat operators took advantage of the situation to engage in unethical commercial activities by overloading their boats.
Such activities, Mr Azuma pointed out, normally spelt disaster resulting in loss of lives and property and appealed to boat operators and owners to be wary in their operations and not allow greed and complacency to influence their work.
Not only did he deplore overloading of boats, but also decried the fact that weather warnings were ignored by operators.
The director-general asked the Naval Task Force in the area not to allow any boat which had not been marked and licensed to operate.
Some of the fishermen and boat owners expressed concern about the limited supply of pre-mix fuel to the area and accused the government of reneging on its promise of providing three tank loads of fuel a week.
The Pru District Co-ordinating Director, Mr Ishmael Nana Ogyefo, said the assembly had acquired outboard motors for the fishermen and advised them to heed to navigation regulations to stop accidents on the lake.
Story: Sebastian Syme