Communities living in and around the Oti Regional Capital, Dambai can now heave a sigh of relief as tree-stumps on the Oti River which made transport across the region a perilous endeavour are being removed.
Boat disasters and their attendant deaths, particularly on the Volta Lake, have been quite common; thereby, pushing the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) to aggressively embark on an exercise to uproot tree-stumps in the Oti River.
Many travelling to Kete-Krachi in the Oti Region, as well as parts of the north such as Kpandai, Bimbilla, Yeji and Tamale â€“ and the vast network of islands in the newly created region â€“ have to rely on boats and ferries to cross the river that gave the region its name.
To prevent any accidents, management of the Ghana Maritime Authority awarded a contract to Kete-Krachi Timber Recovery (KKTR) Ltd. to remove the tree-stumps which have the potential to cause accidents.
The Deputy Director, Projects, Monitoring & Evaluation at the GMA, Dr. Richard Lartey, said this scale of tree-stump removal has never been done before. â€œThree important routes, with vast economic and social importance, were covered in this exercise â€“ Dambai-Njare (18km); Tumpunjah Island-Kudorkope Yeji-Makango (5km); and Kudorkope-Dambai Yeji-Awujakope (7km),â€ he explained.
Between 2018 and 2019, he said, the Authority also sponsored the removal of stumps on the 2.5km Dambai-Dodoikope, 8km Yeji-Makango and 11km Yeji-Awujakope routes. Dr. Lartey said since the removing the stumps transport services have greatly improved, yielding huge economic and social dividends to the people who live around those areas.
He said, previously, the ferries and boats could not operate after 5pm due to poor visibility, often leaving commuters stranded and desperate; but that has now changed. Ferries and boats are now able to navigate safely on the lake up to 8pm. Also, several trips are made daily by ferries on these routes compared to just a few previously, he stressed.
The Station Officer at Dambai for the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC), Mr. Ernest Asamoah, lauded the GMAâ€™s decision to remove the tree-stumps.
â€œWhen the water level is going down, the risk of running into a tree-stump is greater, especially for the small boats and canoes,â€ he said.
Mr. Asamoah said this risk has now been eliminated with the tree-stumps removed, guaranteeing the safety of thousands of people who use the crossing daily.
The Director General of Ghana Maritime Authority, Mr. Thomas K. Alonsi, said the decision to award the contract for removing the stumps chimed perfectly with the Authorityâ€™s determination o to reduce significantly the risks associated with water transport in the country.
â€œOur mandate is to, among other things, ensure safety and security on our seas and inland waterways; but it is more than just a mandate, it is a duty we owe our fellow citizens to protect their lives and facilitate their commerce so they can live decent and meaningful lives,â€ he said.
The Director General praised the Board, led by Mr. Robert Kingsford Kutin, for its foresight in supporting managementâ€™s initiative.
The stump-removal is being supervised by the two Deputy Directors-General â€“ Mr. Daniel Appianin (Operations and Technical), and Mr. Yaw Akosa Antwi (Finance & Administration).