Some fishermen at Jamestown in Accra have expressed anger at some government officials who they accuse of shortchanging them in government’s bid to provide them with outboard motors.
The fishermen, who say they paid about GHc 6,000 for the outboard motors about five months ago, are yet to receive them.
When Citi News got to Jamestown, some fishermen struggled to push a canoe up a stony hill. They had their fishing net and other equipment in the canoe, but they returned empty handed.
Down the hill, on the sea shore, a group of women gathered around a few baskets of fish brought in by some men from their expedition.
The baskets we were told belonged to only one woman, who is the wife of the chief fisherman. The other fishmongers begged her for some, but she refused.
“How many are you taking home and how many will you leave for us? Are you taking everything home,” some asked.
Even children, who were supposed to be in the classroom, were fishing to make a few cedis.
One 10-year old explained that he stopped schooling at class three and that he makes between 50 to 60 cedis a day.
Citi News also chanced on one Adjetey, who is 12 year old, and according to him, his daily sales are given to his mother for the upkeep of the family.
Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that fishing provides employment for about 10% of the country’s population. But in Jamestown, there are fears the number of people will further dwindle.
The month of April is not a bumper season for the fishermen, but they explained the problem had aggravated because of a number of reasons, chief among them being the escapades of foreigners who use all forms of illegal means to deplete Ghana’s fish stock.
“Look at the sea now. The foreigners are now putting all the fish in cartons. Previously, you would have been bathed in fish as soon as you step foot here. They need to sack the foreigners from our shores.”
This situation at Jamestown has far reaching effects on a lot of families who depend on fishing. Ayorkor, a mother of seven, is at the shore to buy a few pieces of fish that will not even fill half of her small basket. She tells us she bought a fish for three cedis from the children, something she used to buy at 50 pesewas a few months ago.
“This was all I got but I had to walk into the sea to buy it. Else I’ll return home empty handed. This is how I take care of my family. It used to be very lucrative but I earn very little these days.”
‘Government cheated us’
Government has adopted a number of strategic interventions to solve the many challenges affecting Ghana’s fishing industry.
Key among them is the development of fish landing sites and the sale of some fishing equipment and fuel at subsidized prices.
However, the fishermen lamented how 12 of them have been shortchanged in government’s bid to provide outboard motors to them at almost half the original price.
“About a year ago, the President came to Mantse Agbona and distributed outboard motors. We were very happy the price was slashed. But some did not receive the motor they had paid for. We understand the Accra mayor came for the motors and campaigned with them at Chorkor. Now the fishermen are really angry. It’s almost six months now and those who paid are yet to receive the outboard motors they have paid for. They are very angry to pay about 7,000 cedis in vein.”
Another major challenge is the lack of landing beaches at Jamestown. Several plots of land have been cleared for this purpose, but five months after, no development has taken place.
The government boasts of having put in place measures to reduce the country’s fish deficit immensely but if the story from Jamestown is anything to go by, then more than mere rhetoric is needed to correct the trend. But a frustrated father of five at Jamestown, expressed little faith in government.
“They said they were going to solve all of our problems…take care of the pair trawlers and all when we vote for them… but still our country is being destroyed. The rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer.”
By: Zoe Abu-Baidoo & Eugenia Tenkorang/citifmonline.com/Ghana