The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has decided to license boat operators on the Volta Lake as part of efforts by the authority to ease the frequency of boat disasters.
Even though we see this as a good step, we think that the solution to the problem on the lake cannot be found in licensing alone.
It is our desire that pragmatic approaches are adopted to reduce to the barest minimum boat disasters on the lake.
Finding a solution to the frequent disregard for the safety regulations on the lake has taken too long a time.
Consequently, the quest for a solution can be compared to the proverbial vulture which keeps postponing the day it will build its nest, so long as the sun shines after a rainfall.
It is important that solutions are found to dismiss the notion that we do not care much about passengers who die in boat disasters. Public safety in all human endeavours is an important issue which must not be toyed with at all.
We know that various committees, the latest being the Gyaesaayor Committee, have been set up to look for lasting solutions to the boat disasters on the lake and recommendations made. And yet the disasters have persisted.
It is also known that attempts to remove the stumps in the lake have come up for discussion. There was even news that a Canadian company wanted to clear the stumps.
Public education campaign for the people living along the lake is very important.
It is only when they appreciate the importance of the safety regulations and that they should even help to enforce those regulations that the regulations can become beneficial to both lake travellers and the people living along the lake.
Should they understand and appreciate the value of the regulations and the need to comply with them, then progress would be made.
However, if the boat operators continue to overload their boats and also soak themselves in alcohol, forgetting that they are to provide services for the passengers, then the solution would be far away.
Life is precious and it must be treated as such. It could be true that even when the operators tell the passengers that the boat is fully loaded, some passengers do not accept that because they do not know when the next boat would be available.
Obviously, these are some of the issues that the education campaign should seek to address, for, we cannot accept the passengers' taking of risks as normal.
Lake or river transport is beneficial if all the safety regulations are carried out and complied with. It could even be more economical than road transport if the necessary requirements are taken care of.
We know that the GMA has a big task to fulfil in bringing sanity into lake transport and it would need assistance from agencies and bodies which care.
Licensing the boat operators is good, but we must go beyond that.