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08.04.2006 Regional News

Stumps pose danger to commuters on the Volta Lake

By GNA

Tepa Abotoase (E/R), April 8, GNA - The Volta Lake transport system have been described as death trap, as stock of stumps and rocks in the Lake had been a major cause of boat accident. This was revealed by a fact-finding tour of a team of newsmen and human rights activists.

The team observed that boat operators had to manoeuvre and navigate through trees and rocks with difficulties, as lest thoughtlessness could result in an accident.

The plight of the operators and commuters are worsened by strong winds and boisterous waves at certain portion, dubbed "Danger Zone." "Stumps in the Lake over the years, had been a great challenge to boat operators," Mr Kwesi Arhin, a boat operator told the Ghana News Agency after an eight hour tour on the Lake with the team. He said it was a nightmare for us operators, as well as people, who lived in the catchments of the Lake, as we had no other option but to daily commute from one point to the other through the dangerous terrain. The team, which included Ghana News Agency, Joy FM, Africa Regional Office of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiatives and People Dialogue, an NGO, spent about eight hours on the Lake, moving from one village to the other.

Villages visited included Digya, Hedzro, Zikpo, Supom Odome, and Mancherikope all in the Afram Plains District of the Eastern Region was to observe at first hand the plight of over ten fishing communities forcefully evicted by officials of the Wild Life Division of the Forestry Commission.

unfortunately the projects were abandoned mid-way. It was observed that removal of the stumps and rocks would enhance safe navigation on the Lake and create efficient fairways for safe access to landing stages along the shores of the lake, thus reducing accidents.

Furthermore, cargo transportation, especially fuel from the south to the north, will be regular throughout the year, to optimise the use of 'tank farm' facilities provided for transportation of fuel. The economic and financial development in the area will also be enhanced.

Meanwhile, Mr Dali Ahialey a 35-year-old fisherman affected by the eviction appealed for re-demarcation of lands acquired for Digya National Park and the payment of adequate compensation to land owners. He expressed the hope that the re-demarcation and payments of adequate compensation would help prevent frequent confrontations between fishermen, and farmers in communities along the Volta Lake and the District Forestry officials.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency at Hedzro, Mr Ahialey expressed disgusts about the inhuman treatment by Game Wardens, who had consistently harassed and intimidate the poor fisher folks to vacate the settlement, which unfortunately fell within the zone demarcated for the park.

He, therefore, appealed to the government through the Eastern Regional Security Committee, the Department of Game and Wild Life and the Forestry Commission to temper justice with mercy and allow the settlers to continue their activities in a restricted location. In a related development, Ghana News Agency cited documents, which had instructed the settlers to vacate the zone since 1989, but they had remained adamant, the Afram Plans District Assembly issued another order in March 28th, 2002 to the settlers to vacate by the end of June 2002. The latest order was issued on February 10, 2006 by the Park Manager of the Wild Life Division of the Forestry Commission, Mr B Asamoah Boateng, authorizing the settlers to vacate by February 28th, again the settlers refused until they were forcefully evicted on March 11, 2006.

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