As part of a nationwide programme to protect lives on Ghana’s water bodies, boat owners and passengers at Akateng in the Upper Manya Krobo of the Eastern Region have been senistised on various safety protocols.
Among the safety measures include avoiding overloading, wearing of life jackets and also keeping the boats and canoes tidy at all times. Additionally, the boat owners and commuters were also given free life jackets.
The programme is an initiative of the government through the Ministry of Transport in partnership with ZOIL (ECOZOIL), one of the subsidiaries of the Jospong Group of Companies (JGC). It is equally aimed at cleaning the country’s landing sites and its surrounding communities.
Addressing the media, the General Manager (GM) of ZOIL, Mrs. Abitha Odame-Nyanteh, expressed her outfit’s delight in collaborating with the government to undertake this project.
“Aside from protecting lives of commuters on the Volta Lake, we also assist in training individuals to set up control units to monitor various activities of the clean-up exercise on the landing sites,” she added.
This, she explained, will help create job avenues and also reduce the unemployment rate in the country.
“This project is not only for Akateng but a national exercise. And I pray it helps reduce the incidence of accidents on our water bodies to protect precious lives of Ghanaians,” she expressed.
According to her, the core mission of the JGC which ZOIL is a member is to improve lives of Ghanaians.
She was hopeful that the programme after its completion would yield positive impacts in helping to “save lives on our water bodies.”
The National Coordinator for Volta Lake Transport Safety Project, Mrs. Yaa Oforiwaa, explained that the programme was necessitated by safety concerns on the Volta Lake.
“Following concerns of safety on our Volta Late, the Ministry of Transport partnered ZOIL to undertake this project of massive clean-up exercise on the country’s landing sites, and also educate the inhabitants around the landing sites as well as boat operators across the country,” she said.
She said the landing sites on the Volta Lake have become so untidy, a situation that was posing health risks to residents.
“It is along this reason that the Ministry of Transport partnered ZOIL to undertake this all important exercise. And in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal Six (Clean Water and Sanitation), it is required that we give our valuable Ghanaians access to healthy and quality water and also improve the sanitation of our various communities and Ghana as a whole,” she indicated.
She, therefore, entreated residents around water bodies to change their attitudes, cautioning them to refrain from dumping refuse into the lake.
“For all you know, the lake rejects this dumped refuse, posing a lot of health threats,” she noted.
She was upbeat that the ongoing public education will promote safety on the Volta Lake.
“This is because we have provided them with logistics like life jackets to protect lives on the lake,” she disclosed.
“Also, in order to sustain this exercise, a group of people have been trained to be monitoring always. This is not a one-off exercise but a continuous one which will be carried out nationwide,” she assured.
Mrs. Oforiwaa stated that the public education was also to educate people to appreciate the essence of maintaining a serene environment.
Some boat owners who spoke to the media were excited about the programme.
Mr. Nartey Quainoo, a Boat Inspector and an owner, was full of praise for the partnership between the Ministry of Transport and ECOZOIL to protect lives on the Volta Lake.
“We will take the education serious, and I as a boat inspector and an owner will ensure that henceforth, there will be no overloading of passengers on the boats to avoid accidents on the lake. I will also ensure that all my passengers have life jackets on,” he gave a firm assurance.
Madam Juliana Odi, a market woman who also spoke to the media, commended ECOZOIL for the donation of the life jackets.
“We as market women use the boat regularly for our trading business. And in fact getting life jackets is a real headache. We are, therefore, grateful for the donation of life jackets by ECOZOIL. It will go a long way to save lives of commuters,” she expressed.