Needless deaths on Volta Lake must stop

An Accra-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), First To Rescue, donated a consignment of live-jackets, reflector vests, radio communication appliances, safety boots and rain coats worth about 20,000 pounds to the Kpando-Torkor Fishermen Association on Monday.  

This is necessary and timely because 10 fishermen in that area of the Volta Region have died diving to disentangle nets from beneath their vessels since the beginning of this year, with the latest of such mid-water tragedies occurring just about a week ago.    

The Chief Fisherman of the community, Mr Louis Acorlatse, is reported to have said that the deaths could have been avoided if there were safety and rescue gadgets on the vessels.

He mentioned the annual storms on the lake as a problem for which the association needed a speed boat to promptly respond to distress calls from the lake, just in case of any eventuality.  

The NGO promised to provide the speed boat and also help to train fishermen in the area of safety on the lake.    

The Ghanaian Times has put out all this information to be the basis to raise one or two questions now and for our cherished readers to continue the debate.

What caused the accidents in reference now have not been mentioned but it is on record that tree stumps constitute one of the factors.

We also know the fishermen and others who operate vessels to carry passengers ignore safety measures.

What has been the attitude of some of the stakeholders with regard to ensuring sanity in inland fishing and water transport?

Much as the Ghanaian Times does not intend to blame anyone or groups of persons, concerning attitude, we can say, for example, that in 2010, the government signed an agreement with a Canadian company, Clark Sustainable Resource Development Limited, to remove tree stumps from the Volta Lake, but the Ghana National Inland Canoe Fishermen Council raised concerns, including incidents of fish deaths since the project started.

The Environmental Protection Agency said its monitoring could not confirm the council’s claim, yet the disagreement between the company and the fishing community halted the project and the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources then, Mr Inusah Fuseini, had to constitute an inter-ministerial committee to deal with the social and environmental issues.

It is about time safety on the Volta Lake is tackled with collective efforts because deaths on the lake are needless and hurting, particularly in the case of the young people whose lives were or are just budding.

The Ghanaian Times commends First To Rescue for its donation and promises to do more towards safety on the Volta Lake.

However, the fishermen should note that lapses in safety measures affect them first in terms of death and injury.

Thus, they must put their act together and protect themselves first before others come in, bearing in mind that the deaths could be avoided if they first take precautions.

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