Communities living in and around the Oti Regional capital, Dambai can now heave a sigh of relief as tree stumps on the Oti River that made transport across the region a perilous endeavour are being removed.
Boat disasters and deaths, particularly on the Volta Lake, have been quite common.
The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) which has in recent years aggressively uprooted tree stumps from certain parts of the Volta Lake has extended its work to the Oti River.
Many people travelling to Kete-Krachi in the Oti Region, as well as parts of the north such as Kpandai, Bimbilla, Yeji and Tamale, and the vast network of islands in the newly created region, have to rely on boats and ferries to cross the river which gave the region its name.
To prevent any accidents, the management of the Ghana Maritime Authority awarded a contract to Kete-Krachi Timber Recovery (KKTR) Ltd., for the removal of the tree stumps that have the potential to cause accidents.
The Deputy Director, Projects, Monitoring & Evaluation at the GMA, Dr Richard Lartey, said this scale of tree stump removal has never been done.
“Three important routes, with vast economic and social importance, were covered in this exercise – Dambai-Njare (18km), Tumpunjah Island-Kudorkope Yeji-Makango (5km), and Kudorkope-Dambai Yeji-Awujakope (7km),” he explained.
Between 2018 and 2019, he said the Authority also sponsored the removal of stumps on the 2.5km Dambai-Dodoikope, 8km Yeji-Makango and 11km Yeji-Awujakope routes.
Dr Lartey said since the removal of the stumps, transport services have greatly improved, yielding huge economic and social dividends to the people who live around these areas.
He said previously the ferries and boats could not operate after 5 pm due to poor visibility, often leaving commuters stranded and desperate but that has now changed.
Ferries and boats are now able to navigate safely on the lake up to 8 pm. Also, several trips are made daily by ferries on these routes, compared to just a few previously, he stressed.
The Station Officer at Dambai for the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC), Mr Ernest Asamoah lauded the decision by the GMA to remove the tree stumps.
“When the water level is going down, the risk of running into a tree stump, especially for the small boats and canoes is greater,” he said.
Mr. Asamoah said this risk has now been eliminated with the tree stumps removed, guaranteeing the safety of the thousands of people who use the crossing daily.
The Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Thomas K. Alonsi, said the decision to award the contract for the removal of the stumps chimed perfectly with the determination of the Authority to reduce significantly the risks associated with water transport in the country.
“Our mandate is to among other things, ensure safety and security on our seas and inland waterways, but it is more than just a mandate, it is a duty we owe our fellow citizens to protect their lives and facilitate their commerce so they can live decent and meaningful lives,” he asserted.
He said it is this same belief that led the Authority to lead the process of removing similar tree stumps on the Volta Lake, a measure which has reduced to almost zero, accidents on that lake.
The Director General praised the Board, led by Mr. Robert Kingsford Kutin, for the foresight in supporting the management’s initiative.
The stump removal is being supervised by the two Deputy Directors General, Mr Daniel Appianin (Operations and Technical) and Mr Yaw Akosa Antwi (Finance & Administration).
They expressed satisfaction at the work done.