The gesture was in response to an appeal made by leaders of the communities to provide them with the tree stumps which were harvested from the lake in order to sell and use the proceeds to support development projects in their communities.
Beneficiary communities include Yeji, Awidzakope Awuja-kope in the Bono East Region and Makango in the Savanna Region. The harvested tree stumps are valued at millions of Ghana cedis.
The Deputy Director in charge of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the authority, Dr Richard Lartey, in a press release issued by the GMA on September 15 in Accra, observed that it was important that the wood be given back to the communities because it belongs to them.
“These are expensive wood and every business person would have sold it for personal gains but the authority deems it fit to give it back to the communities in the catchment areas,” he said.
According to him, the authority would continue to play its role in making sure the Volta Lake is navigable and safe for all boat operators and other users to ply their trade.
The GMA was established by the Ghana Maritime Authority Act 2002, (Act 630) to regulate, monitor and coordinate activities of the sea and ensure safety of navigation.The GMA is mandated to ensure safety of navigation both at sea and inland waterways and in an effort to perform this mandate, it contracted the Kete Krachi Timber Recovery Limited (KKTR) to harvest the tree stumps to make the lake navigable and curb rampant boat accidents along the channel crossings between Yeji-Makango and Yeji-Awujakope.
Receiving the wood on behalf of the people of Yeji, Nana Siahene Mprekukigyi II, the Gyasihene of Yeji, according to the release, expressed his gratitude to the GMA and the government for creating a safe channel on the lake for navigation.
He, however, cautioned boat owners and operators to avoid speeding and overloading, as well as observe safety precautions.
“We used to encounter a lot of boat accidents at this time of the year but thanks to the Ghana Maritime Authority, we have not had any unfortunate incident in the area yet,” the press release quoted Nana Mprekukigyi as saying.
Boat accidents on the lake have claimed 55 lives, with a total of 216 reported cases of injuries between 2016 and 2018. With the removal of the tree stumps, the GMA is on the verge of proclaiming a –zero-boat-accident on the lake.