Transport Minister, Fifi Kwetey is hopeful that ferry operations along the Volta Lake could reduce fatalities which have characterized lake transport in recent times.
He singled out private boat operators who pay scant attention to safety for contributing to the loss of lives, and is optimistic that the operation of two new ferries, set to operate from Senchi to Yeji and Dambai respectively could save more lives.
“The ferries will provide a much safer way of transport for commuters along the lake and this must be good news for them,” he indicated.
The Minister made these remarks after inspecting work on the ferries, MV Senchi and MV Akrade which are being dismantled, to be reassembled at Akosombo before final passage to their respective destinations.
Dismantling of the ferries has become necessary due to the Akosombo Dam which will make passage from Senchi to Yeji and Dambai impossible.
Though this has been long in coming, Fifi Kwetey maintains it will help solve several challenges facing communities along the lake.
Adom News in July revealed how the €14 million ferries had turned into “white elephants” at Senchi seven months after President John Mahama had said ferries were to be sent to Yeji and Dambai during commissioning of the rehabilitated Adomi Bridge.
The Transport Ministry some months later through procurement processes awarded Seaweld Engineering Ltd, a local company, the GH¢8.7 million contract for dismantling and reassembling.
According to Fifi Kwetey, one of the ferries will be operational in the coming weeks between Yeji and Makango as Seaweld continues to prepare the remaining one for Dambai.
He was impressed with the progress of work as what should take about two weeks had been done within six days.
“Seaweld doing this shows our commitment to local content as government .The contract was signed on October 10, 2016. We encourage a lot more companies to vie for contracts,” he said.
Meanwhile, contractor for the project, Alexander Mangortey in an interview with Adom News’ Kwame Yankah, suggested that the ferries be fumigated quarterly as mice have destroyed some important cables in the ferries.
He revealed that the ferries can last for about 25 years if maintained regularly.
“Going forward, we have to sensitize those who will board the ferries to minimize eating whiles onboard as these mice are attracted by remnants of food. The sad thing is that we have to import these cables which have been destroyed,” he said.
The ferries will be managed by Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC) as part of its fleet of vessels.
Acting Director of VLTC, Kenneth Appiah-Oppong has promised the Minister that his outfit is ready to operate the ferries.
According to him, VLTC with its close to five decades of experience, has the necessary know-how to operate the ferries in a safe and proper manner.