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Regional News | May 26, 2004

Elmina in fishing boom

Chronicle

... But chief fisherman says gov't insensitive to their needs

Fishermen in Elmina (Edina) in the Central Region have for the past two months enjoyed good catches when fishing making the town economically vibrant. Speaking to The Chronicle on Sunday Nana Jojo Solomon, the chief fisherman, said that people from all walks of life visited the town and engaged in brisk business making the town lively.

He told the paper that it was rare at this point in time to see fishermen enjoying a good catch even though he could not tell whether the unexpected bumper would continue throughout the peak season, which normally occurrs between July and August.

“Now you see everybody's eye is red taking advantage of the situation because we don't know when this trend will disappear,” he said.

While traders and other hawkers were doing their own thing, when this reporter visited that town, tourists were also having a field day as they watched how the fishermen exploited the great Benya Lagoon to their advantage.

In spite of this monumental trend Nana Solomon, who was installed about three weeks ago, criticised the way and manner government was treating or responding to the plight of fishermen in the area and the country as a whole.

He told the paper that since they drew the attention of the government on the harm being caused by the poor quality of the pre-mix fuel, which had destroyed most their outboard motors, no government official had visited the town to listen to their grievances.

According to him, about 150 outboard motors including his have been destroyed by this bad pre-mix fuel, throwing most fishermen out of business.

Buttressing his point with facts, he said recently a fuel tanker came to discharged pre-mix at one of the filling stations and to their surprise, it was the kind of pre-mix fuel used by the cocoa sprayers.

In view of that, he said most of the fishermen had now boycotted the use of pre-mix and switched over to super which he noted costs between ¢2 million and ¢3 million for one fishing trip. This bad pre-mix, the paper learnt has accumulated in the various filling stations.

Nana Solomon reiterated that the attitude of the government towards them indicated that it did not care if the local fishing industry collapsed, taking into consideration the assistance being provided for farmers in the area of mass spray of cocoa and supplied of fertilizers.

He noted that the fishermen were formerly buying pre-mix at the cost of ¢6,400 stressing that government should have considered and the increased to an appreciable price if the country were facing economic crisis rather than pegging it at ¢16,000.

Currently, most fishermen cannot breakeven owing to the high price of fuel and this has attracted the sympathy of most Ghanaians including the NDC flagbearer, Professor Evans Atta Mills, who called on the government to take second look at it.

However, the chief fisherman attested to the fact that it was the first time that a Toyota pickup was awarded as a prize to the best fishermen.

On assumption of office just a few weeks ago, Nana Solomon has been able to effect some changes on the beach including flushing out of thieves who disturbed traders.

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