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14.03.2007 General News

Another boat disaster on Volta Lake

By : The Chronicle

Another disaster has occurred on the Volta Lake on the 1st of March 2007 near the Dwarf Island in the Afram Plains District of the Eastern Region as the boat on which market women were travelling capsized after a heavy storm.

The accidents, which normally occur during Easter seasons, were becoming a source of worry to the users of the lake because it is their main means of transportation.

The recent accident involved 43 people, including four children, on their way from the Dzemeni market in the South Dayi District of the Volta Region to Nyarkui Kope, Akpafu Kope, and Digbor Kope all in the Afram Plains District of the Eastern Region.

Narrating the incident, the boat owner, George Lewu said his boat operator; Dzimale Worfa sent a message to him on Friday, the 2nd of March a day after the incident that the victims stayed on the lake for a day where some of them died.

According to him search parties were later dispatched from Nyarkui Kope, Dzemeni and Digbor Kope after a message was sent to the people about the accident, adding that the search parties rescued 30 passengers while 13 bodies were retrieved from the lake and buried along the Volta Lake at Nyarkui Kope.

Mr. Lewu explained that the boat was not even fully loaded because it carried 43 passengers instead of 67 and described the accident as natural but very painful as he, the boat owner, lost a relative in the accident.

The boat owner continued that the bodies were buried along the banks of the lake after families identified those who died.

The families had agreed that the bodies should be buried there because they could not be sent home for decent burial, as it was a taboo.

He made a passionate appeal to the government to help subsidize life jackets to boat owners on credit to ensure that all boats have adequate life jackets for each passenger to reduce the frequent deaths on the lake.

Mr. Lewu said he bought some of the life jackets but had to keep them because any time he tried to release them to a few people in the boat, it created confusion among the passengers as those who could not get theirs expressed various concerns.

Contributing, the organizer responsible for Dzemeni and Afram plains Boat Owners Association, Simon Agbordzor expressed worry about the accident.

According to him, the boat disaster has become an annual ritual, which calls for pragmatic steps from all stakeholders to address, noting that it was evident that most boat owners have an inadequate number of life jackets to give to passengers.

Mr. Agbordzor however emphasized that the boat owners and operators were reluctant to issue the few life jackets at their disposal for use by passengers. As he put it, they use it to decorate their rooms.
He however urged the Volta River Authority and relevant agencies to embark on a sensitization programme for boat owners, operators as well as passengers to use life jackets in order to reduce the high rate of accidents on the lake.

Source: The Chronicle