The operators of the Agordeke-Kpando Torkor water bus, the MV Akpini Princess, on the Afram River in the Eastern Region are impressing on the Ghana Maritime Authority to charter the river to make navigation safe on the water body.
Speaking in an interview on board the Princess, Mr Asante said sometimes, he had to consult the fisherfolk to determine where the tree stumps were in order to avoid hitting them.
“Currently, the whole Volta Lake has not been chartered and that is why the engine boats have been getting damaged. They are distroyed by the tree stumps.
“If the Lake had been chartered, the stumps would have been removed to make navigation on the water safe,” he told the radioxyzonline.
Mr Asante said for now, he uses trees and some other landmarks to gauge the route, explaining that even though the compass was available to direct the movement of the bus, it could not determine where the stumps were under the water.
“It is very important to charter the water to make travelling on the water body safe,” he said, describing the current situation as dangerous, as anything could happen.
Touching on the landing site of the water bus, he said the site lacked modern facilities and cited the lack of bollards for proper berthing of the vessel as an example.
He said the rocky nature of the landing site was not suitable, explaining that it could easily affect the vessel.
Referring to the activities of the canoe operators, the captain said he could not stop passengers from boarding the canoe.
“I believe it is up to the individual passenger to decide which one to join because I saw them trying to convince some of them and they refused and are waiting to join the bus.”
He said it was left to the individual passengers to decide which of the vessels to patronise for safety and comfort.
Mr Asante said the water bus was equipped with modern facilities that guarantee the safety of passengers, explaining that it had been designed in a way that in the event of any disaster, there were two life rafts that could accommodate 60 passengers even though the vessel carried 52 passengers.
A life raft is a modern facility that keeps passengers in a boat afloat in the event of a disaster until a rescue team arrives.
Mr Asante explained that each of the two life rafts could contain 30 passengers and, therefore, described the vessel as one of the safest on the water body.
He said his only worry about the activities of the boat operators was that the government had spent money to bring the water bus to the place but it was not being fully utilised, adding that he sometimes moved it virtually empty, especially in the evening from Kpando to Agordeke to berth.
Mr Asante appealed to the assemblies of the areas the vessel operates and opinion leaders to educate their people to “value their lives”, saying that both the water bus and the boats were charging the same fare of GHc7.
“But we offer comfort and security. Our seats are one man, one seat and our vessel is equipped with modern facilities that guarantee safety in the event of any disaster,” he said.