Akosombo (E/R), June 16, GNA - The Management of the Volta Lake Transport Company Limited (VLTC) on Wednesday called for more investments to enable it to effectively handle the transit cargo business to remain competitive in the shipping industry.
The Company also appealed for Government's support to construct a 275 -kilometre fuel pipeline to link Buipe and Bolgatanga to provide cost effective and reliable bulk transportation of petroleum products to the Upper Regions and landlocked neighbouring countries.
The Acting Managing Director, Mr Bright Obeng-Boampong made the call during a tour to the Volta Lake by the Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways, Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi.
The Minister, accompanied by officials of the Ministry, the District Chief Executive of Asuogyaman, Dr J. K. Siaw and the press toured VLCT facilities at the Akosombo Port, held a meeting with Management of the Company, attended a workers durbar and cruised on the Lake.
During the meeting with Management, Mr Obeng-Boampong explained to the Minister that VLCT was currently supplying 100,000 cubic metres of fuel per annum to areas served by the Buipe and Bolgatanga Depots, which had been estimated to increase to 163,400 cubic metres during the current year.
He said the figure for the current year was expected to increase by 3.5 per cent per annum for the next eight years and that made it expedient to expand the Company's fuel transport capacity to meet current and future demands.
Mr Obeng- Boampong said VLCT had proposed to procure two additional tanker barges and a pusher tug at an estimated cost of 22 million Euros to enable it to play its strategic role in the nation's economic development.
He said currently, the main lines of business were the north-south operations and cross-ferry services that involved the transportation of petroleum products from the Akosombo Port to the Buipe Port for distribution to consumers in Northern Ghana and parts of Brong Ahafo Region.
Other goods including cements, construction materials, cotton lint, sheanuts and cassava chips, yams, beans, fish, groundnuts and livestock are also carted on the Lake on weekly between Akosombo and Yeji, under the transportation of solid cargo and tramping services.
On constraints, Mr Obeng-Boampong said navigation on the Lake was hampered during prolonged periods of drought as had been experienced for the past 10 years where the Lake level went below 74.37 metres national datum level (NDL), which interrupted operations.
He mentioned that during one of the prolonged droughts, a rock barrier dubbed "Debre Shoals" showed itself up on the fairway, down stream Buipe Port, that made all-year round sailing's from Debre to Buipe Port impossible.
He said the mother-Company, Volta River Authority Company (VRA) commissioned a dredging project that led to the blasting of rock and reduction of the river depth from 75 metres to 73.8 metres NDL. The Acting Managing Director said the Company intended to develop the Debre into a permanent port to help in it operations adding that, it planned to rehabilitate two ferries at a cost of 4.2 billion cedis, which were built in 1970 but have been grounded at Akosombo Port due to technical conditions.
Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi commended the VLTC as the only inland water transport company that served the transportation needs of the population in the Volta Lake area, thereby improving their socio-economic lives. He said though VLCT formed part of the integral part of the multi transport system in Ghana, just a little was known about its operations by the rest of Ghana and urged them to do more to bring their activities and service into the public light.
He promised to return to Akosombo for a more thorough tour on the Lake from the south to north to know at first hand their problems and see how best to help.
The Minister said in the near future, investors might be invited in to partner with Management to "lift the company up" instead of a complete divestiture.
At the durbar, the workers called for the replacement of obsolete equipment and better working conditions.