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08.11.2005 General News

Compensation for Tema Shipyard victims in progress

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Accra, Nov. 8, GNA - The Ministry of Harbours and Railways is liaising with the Legal Aid Scheme of the Attorney- General's Department to work out a fair and equitable compensation package for the bereaved families of the Tema Shipyard fire.

Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Harbours and Railways, said the involvement of the AG's Department was due to legal issues that came up and failed attempts to settle the matters amicably. Speaking at this week's Meet-The-Press Series in Accra, he said the families of the victims disagreed with the salaries of the victims as they contended that they earned more than what had been quoted. "With these issues arising, it has become clear that non-legal brains cannot settle the matter and that legal minds are, therefore, required for the sake of fairness and equity."

The issue of compensation was part of recommendations by the Committee of enquiry that was constituted to investigate the cause of the fire outbreak and to make appropriate recommendations. The seven-member Committee chaired by the Former Inspector-General of Police, Nana Owusu-Nsiah found owners of M.V. Polaris, the vessel the workers were welding when it caught fire on Good Friday this year, liable for the disaster and directed that they paid compensation to the families of the 18 victims, including three foreigners. The fire, which started at about 1045 hours, raged on for eight hours and destroyed valuables, properties, facilities and installations including TOR Seawater Pumping machine.

The Minister also threw light on the activities of the Ghana Shippers Council (GSC).

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said the Council had put up a comprehensive plan to protect shippers and increase the number of shipper committees. Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi noted that the GSC was collaborating with the private sector to provide adequate infrastructure to promote the work of importers and exporters.

On the Volta Lake Transport Company, he observed that it had been providing safe, secure and reliable inland water transport for both cargo and passengers.

"It is worth stating that the Volta Lake has a great potential for trade transit as it facilitates transport trade such bulk cargo, cement, fuel to Burkina Faso and Mali," the Minister said.

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said the Lake was an excellent alternative transport system and complemented road transport for bulk haulage. Currently, government is mobilizing about 30 million dollars to expand its fuel shipping facilities.

He stated that plans were underway to capture a strategic investor to boost the tourism potential of the Lake to increase its revenue base.

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