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General News of Sunday, 10 September 2006

Source: GNA

Task force for Volta Lake transportation setup

Yeji (B/A), Sept. 11, GNA - Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Ekumfi, Minister of Harbours, Ports and Railways has inaugurated a 20-member task force to ensure safety of transportation on the Volta Lake with an appeal to the chiefs and people of Yeji to expose activities that would pose danger to life and property on the lake.

"Anybody who flouts the new rules and regulations governing safety of transportation on the lake will not be spared and will be made to face the consequences of his/her actions", he stated. The task force will safeguard lake transport activities to prevent the re-occurrence of last week's disaster.
Prof. Ameyaw-Ekumfi consequently ordered the re-arrest of the boat owner, who went into hiding after the police at Salaga granted him bail. He said the policemen responsible for the missing boat owner stood the chance of losing their jobs, if they failed to re-arrest him. Prof. Ameyaw-Ekumfi noted that "accidents do occur but they rather turn sour and unfortunate, if people throw caution to the winds and cause fellows human beings to lose their lives or put them in danger", adding, such acts should not be encouraged and those responsible should be made to face the law.
He expressed condolences to the bereaved families and assured them that the task force had been formed to ensure that the right measures were put in place to forestall any re-occurrence.
The Minister allayed the fears of the families, saying, the government was aware of the livelihood derived from the lake and feasibility studies would be done before tree stumps in the lake would be removed to keep fishes in the lake.
Prof. Ameyaw-Ekumfi assured the task force of the Ministry's support, urged members to discharge their duties accordingly and appealed to traditional authorities not to interfere in their work. He said similar bodies would be formed in some towns bordering the lake, adding, the Pru District Assembly would take over the task force's responsibilities, when its time was over.
The National Co-ordinator of NADMO, Mr Isaac George Amoo, also expressed condolences to the bereaved families and challenged the communities to stand up against activities on the lake that endangered life and property.
"We must use our God given conscience to save life and property and stop the 'give everything to God syndrome', because such acts undermine the efforts of those, who want to ensure that the right thing is done", he added.
Mr Amoo said the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) upon inspection had described the boat that was involved in the accident as not fit for transportation.
He said the nation could not continue to lose precious lives due to the negligence and greed of some people and called on all stakeholders to support the worthy cause to bring such incidents to the barest minimum.
Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, appealed to the traditional authorities and the community to support the force and to assist the body to curb such unfortunate incidents. He assured the task force of the assistance of the regional co-ordinating council at any given time.
Mr Peter Azumah, Director of GMA said, although lake accidents could not be avoided, it could be reduced to the minimum level, adding, the Authority had realised that, most of the disasters were man-made, the major factors being improper boat design, lack of life-saving gadgets, over-loading and improper loading among others. He said safety on the lake was a shared responsibility and called for the co-operation of the district assemblies bordering the lake, passengers, boat owners, operators and traditional authorities to make the operation of the task force a success.
Nana Yaw Kabrese V, Chief of Yeji, pledged his support for the operation and cautioned the community to avoid activities that could jeopardise the work of the task force.
The task force is made up of personnel of the Navy, Police, NADMO, Ghana National Fire Service and the GMA and would be responsible for the inspection of all boats landing and leaving Yeji to ensure that they are worthy for transportation.
It will also ensure that all boats had clear load line marking and do not overload to submerge the load line marking, as well as ensuring that all boats are assigned maximum loading capacity for both passengers and goods.
The body will also ensure that all passengers and crew travelling have life saving jackets and educate them on the use and importance of the jackets, obtain warning information from the Meteorological Service Department for notification of boat operators and owners in advance.

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