On Saturday, March 17, 2023, Island Communities in Ada wept and prayed by the banks of the river Volta for the lives of their loved ones who had perished.
It was a sad scene.
Five people, including two children, perished when the boat they were riding from Azizanya to Azizakpe overturned due to crowding.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency with residents some revealed that there were no other options for getting from their communities to Big Ada and Azizanya, where they could then connect to commercial hubs like Ashaiman and Tema to conduct business and shop, besides taking a boat on the Volta River.
Ayigbo, Azizakpe, Aflive, Pediatorkope, Alorkpem, Kpetsukpanya, Angosikope, Ajim, and Alehusedokope are some of these villages.
Apart from the musician Castro’s disappearance a few years ago on their side of the Volta River, the residents claimed that drowning events are uncommon in their neighborhoods.
The travelers pay between GHs2.00 and GHs10.00 for each crossing, according to Madam Bernice Amanatey, a devoted boat traveler, who told the Ghana News Agency.
She noted that it was the only way they could reach Ada Foah, Big Ada, Kasseh, Sege, and the other islands to trade their goods, which included coconuts, fish, crabs, and oysters among other things.
“If not for the negligence of the boat operator and the passengers who continued to board despite the boat being overloaded the recent boat accident could have been prevented,” she said.
The majority of boat operators have life vests, but Mr. Ebenezer Nartey, Assembly Member for Ada Foah Zongo and Chairman of the Area Council, revealed that they only provide them to passengers upon request.
Even though several workshops on the significance of making sure travelers wear life jackets have been organized for them, Mr. Nartey claimed that they still do not heed the advice.
He added that because the assembly members could not be on the banks of the river to monitor their activities, most of them followed their own desires.
“I think the issue is with the boat workers; since we aren’t always there to watch over them, they can do as they please and overload the boat as well,” he noted.
“I twice engaged them, but they refused to heed my counsel,” he said acknowledged that there is the need to be more enforcement for the operators to follow the safety regulations.
He said that although the Navy is currently patrolling the area, their workforce might not be sufficient because the banks stretch from Big Ada to Ada Foah.
He, therefore, called for the establishment of more Navy bases along the area to discourage operators from overloading and engaging in other unsafe practices.
When asked why they were not encouraging people to require life jackets or decline to board boats that were too full, the assembly member responded, “we have been talking about that but most of them believe they can swim because they are islanders.
The absence of life jackets, overloading, operator negligence, operator/passenger disobedience, and unfavorable weather were all cited as causes of such incidents by Mr. Richard Dick Cudjoe, a philanthropist who concentrates on providing life jackets to residents of such island communities.
“Even though we know it’s hard for the residents who operate to afford these life jackets, they must use it just like you board a car and must wear a seatbelt,” Mr. Cudjoe said in support of proper enforcement of penalties and safety measures.
He emphasized that a boat owner or operator must understand that they are accountable for the passengers’ protection.
He said it did not send a positive signal to tourists who are currently visiting those areas and that the task force must be proactive in inspecting them to prevent future occurrences.