The Dodi Island in the Asuogyaman District of the Eastern Region, the Dodi Princess 2 ferry,operated by Volta Hotel Akosombo, a subsidiary of the Volta River Authority, and the passengers on board are collectively christened, the Dodi World.
And when the former Minister of Tourism, Akua Senah Dansua, in 2012 cruised on the ferry with her colleague legislators, including the former Majority Leader in Parliament, Cletus Avoka and some selected Journalists, her intention was clear: To pursue a vigorous plan to open up the Island for investment.
Sadly,and very disheartening, her plans fell on the rock: the boat(Dodi Princess 1) got burnt to ashes, reportedly as a result of negligence on the part of catering staff to take fire safety precautionary measures.
Seven years later, the Dodi Princess 2 is reborn, cruising people on the 60-nautical mile voyage from Akosombo to the Dodi Island and back, on Saturdays and public holidays. It has the capacity to carry about 170 passengers per trip.
The Sales and Marketing Officer of the Volta Hotel Akosombo, Isaac Ofosu Obiri, told me on board the ferry on Christmas day that the ferry has cruised close to 20,000 people since it started operation in July last year.
“We are getting feedback to improve our services in order to boost domestic tourism by getting more people to patronise our services.”
“We have received some complains about the food we serve, we try to vary it to suit the taste of our clients,” he assured.
“The new ferry has been built with high safety standards, our catering crew no longer cook on board, we have deploy security details and fire safety measures to give our clients the best of service,” Captain Johnson Gariba added.
The ferry is back in fully operations, but the fact still remains: To what extend has the VRA developed the Dodi World?
“After all the fun fair, the music on board, nothing more, there is hardly a story to tell back home after cruising the Dodi World,” these were the sentiments of one of the passengers on board the ferry on Christmas day.
Has the Volta Hotel Akosombo, operators of the ferry, adequately marketed its operations? Are the rates affordable? Is domestic tourism real or rhetoric?
Many years after the Akosombo Dam has been constructed for hydropower, not much has been explored, in terms of investment on the Island.
Apart from the aquaculture on the lake and recently the construction of the Tema -Mpakadan railways for lake cargo transport, not much has been done on the Dodi Island.
In Ugandan, the Entebbe Imperial Resort Beach Hotel is booming on the tip of the Lake Victoria, whereas in Ghana, the custodian of the Volta Lake (VRA)appears to be keeping the Dodi World closely under its ambit, like a shrine that has to be worshiped, but not explored.
The shed, reportedly constructed under the directives of former President J.J. Rawlings, where he occasionally visited to cool off, when he was head of state, is in ruins. There is no any recreational facility on the Island.
Why is VRA not entering into partnership with investors to develop the place into beach resorts? Is the VRA indulging in the proverbial Ghanaian “Konongo Kaya?”
The Island offers conducive environment for teaching and learning: private developers can build schools on the quite serene mountainous Dodi Island.
Besides, hospitals can be cited there; the serene environment can help enhance therapy. Again the state can build a maximum prison facility like the Robbin Island in South Africa.
One may say that it is easier said or written than done, but the fact is-the Dodi World is untapped huge resource!
Yes I had a memorable cruise on the scenic Volta Lake on the Dodi Princess 2 at GHc 200, which comes with coupon for a meal and drink. My impression of the Island is the abundance of poverty in the midst of plenty.
A JSS student on the Island tells it all when she whispered into my ears: “I need money to buy books.”
I enjoyed the Kwanpa music group on board for their fine performance, including the local Ga music “Ebebe Tatale”, Mamfeoo, ooo…Maamfe ooo popopoh.”
But I still think that the Indian revelers I observed on board the ferry on that day, who ‘chilled’ throughout the five-hour round trip, and many more yet to go there, have a lot of money and resources to spend or invest on the Dodi World to generate income through job creation to alleviate poverty in that part of the world.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman