Operators of boat services on the Volta Lake who function without making life jackets available for use by their patrons in times of emergency stand to be prosecuted, the Director General of Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Rev. Dr Peter Azumah, has stated.
According to him, even though some operators had life jackets, they refused to use them.
Dr Azumah has, therefore, charged marine transport operators on the Volta Lake and other water bodies in the country to make the use of life jackets an essential part of their operations in order to protect lives.
The Director General of the GMA was speaking at Tapa Abotoase in the Volta Region last Saturday at a safety campaign organised by the GMA to mark World Maritime Day.
On the occasion, 15 boat operators who had received training from the GMA on technical ways of promoting safety on the Volta Lake were presented with certificates and licences.
World Maritime Day was instituted to highlight the roles and activities of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which is the regulator of world maritime affairs.
The celebration of this year’s World Maritime Day event was on the theme, “Shipping indispensable to the world”.
Rev. Dr Azumah said there was the need to promote marine transport because it played a significant role in commerce and general movement of people.
“According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), around 80 per cent of global trade by volume and over 70 per cent of global trade by value are carried by sea and handled at ports worldwide. In the case of most developing countries, the percentages are higher, ’’ he said.
As a consequence, he said it was important for people to appreciate and protect water bodies owing to their significance to the country’s economy.
He said over the years, boat transportation on the Volta Lake had brought improvement in the lives of communities along the lake and enabled individuals to travel freely around, transport foodstuffs and other goods to market centres and also attend social gatherings.
Dangers on sea
He said another way to promote marine transport was for people to protect the marine environment against natural and man-made disasters.
“These include illegal fishing and armed robbery at sea and other factors that negatively affect waterbodies,’’ he said.
The IMO and the GMA, he explained, had introduced measures to curtail overloading, illegal fishing and activities that lead to accidents on the Volta Lake.
In an interview with the Chairman of the Boat Owners Association, Mr Vincent Abotse, he said their activities were saddled with lots of challenges, some of which he cited as dangerous protrusions in the lake and the lack of safety signals to direct operators of hazards on the lake.
“There are weeds and stumps in the lake and this poses very great risk in our operations,’’ he said.