Dodi Princess Burnt To Ashes
5/7/2012 2:35:39 PM -
THE DODI PRINCESS, Akosombo's famous tourist vessel, was last Friday completely destroyed by fire, leaving just the skeleton of the prestigious cruise ship.
The 21-year-old vessel specially designed for outdoor entertainment, while cruising on the lake and touring the surrounding islands, saw major refurbishment and maintenance work last year.
Last Friday evening's fire disaster has taken workers of the Volta River Authority (VRA) by surprise.
VRA security officials said the fire might have started from the kitchen in the vessel's restaurant as they saw smoke coming from a window there, after kitchen staff served food to diners and prepared the place for the weekend's cruise.
Nobody was on board at the time the vessel caught fire but observers believed moveable items destroyed could be worth thousands of Ghana Cedis.
Eastern Regional Minister Emmanuel Victor Smith, who visited the scene on Saturday, expressed shock at the extent of damage caused by the fire, saying the vessel's destruction had dealt a big blow to tourism in the country.
'The Akosombo Dam and the Volta Lake are one of the most preferred tourism destinations in the country and the government, in conjunction with the VRA, will have to quickly do something about this either repairing it or getting a new one to replace it,' he said.
The minister said it would have been a bigger disaster if the vessel had caught fire while people were on board.
He noted that thorough investigations would have to be conducted to determine the cause of the fire and if it was due to negligence, those implicated would be held responsible.
Principal Fire Officer at VRA, Kofi Affram, told the minister that fire fighters from the Ghana National Fire Service responded swiftly to the distress call at about 6:00pm on Friday but it took them about three to four hours to combat the fire because of highly combustible items on the vessel which made the fire so intense.
He told the minister the cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained unless proper investigations were undertaken.
The general manager of Volta Hotel, Fred Bart-Plange, told the minister it was true his workers were on board the vessel during the day, using the kitchen and serving visitors at the Dodi Princess restaurant but they made sure the place was put in order before leaving as they always did.
By the time journalists and the regional minister visited the scene on Saturday morning, patrons who had earlier booked cruise trips stood by in shock and disappointment over the extensive damage to the vessel which was named after Dodi Island, one of the islands on the lake.
The 350-capacity Dodi Princess was used for important social events including special wedding receptions and entertainment programmes and its name was synonymous with distinguished social gatherings and cruises on the Volta Lake.
From Thomas Fosu Jnr, Akosombo