The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) is to support the Ghana Naval Command operating along the Volta Lake with patrol boats to check indiscipline on the lake.
The existence of the navy task force on the lake would deter unscrupulous private passenger boat operators from defying the laws that guide their operations.
The decision comes on the heels of a recent tragic accident on the lake which claimed at least 15 lives with many more on the boat unaccounted for.
The Director-General of the authority, Dr. Peter Issaka Azumah, in an interview with The Ghanaian Times on the sideline of a tour of the Volta Lake Transport Company by the sector minister on Wednesday, said the task force would be equivalent to the police service on land.
According to him, the non-existence of an enforcer on the water gives the private boat operators the impetus to overload their carriers resulting in the accidents experienced on the lake.
“The fact that they (boat operators) have at the back of their minds that they could meet the task force, even if they intend to overload the boats, they would rescind their decision,” Dr. Azumah noted.
The GMA, he added, intends to establish its lake transport safety control unit which would train officers to assist in ensuring safety on the country’s water bodies.
Additionally, a Marine Policing Bill which had been on the shelves for more than 15 years was receiving attention and that would set the guideline for marine transportation, he said.
Asked what punitive punishments were given to persons who have been found guilty of overloading their passenger boats resulting in accidents to deter others from doing same, the GMA boss said the culprits have be prosecuted.
Dr. Azumah noted that the indiscipline on the lake by the private operators and passengers who have refused to use the live jackets distributed along the lake by the ministry was to be blamed for the accidents.
If persons on-board wore their live jackets, Dr. Azumah was of the conviction that, even if the accident occurred they would have been saved.
He said the authority would step up its sensitisation programme and asked the citizenry to assist by adhering to wearing the jackets and refusing to jump on-board overloaded boats.
From Julius Yao Petetsi, Akosombo