The inability of fishermen along the Volta Lake at Akateng in the Upper Manya Krobo District of the Eastern Region to secure premix fuel for fishing has led to an acute shortage of fish in the area.
Akateng is a major fishing community which supplies large quantities of fish to various parts of the region and beyond.
However, the shortage of the premix fuel has virtually rendered the fishermen and fishmongers redundant.
According to the Secretary of the local Boat Transport Association, Nicholas Tsornyake, although the commodity had not been coming regularly to the town as it used to, when a consignment finally came, the fishermen realised that they had been given a small quantity which could not last for even a day.
He explained that after exhausting their supplies, they had to obtain the commodity from middlemen at exorbitant prices, which made it uneconomical for fishing because they operated at a loss.
He, therefore, appealed to the government to, as a matter of urgency, supply them with adequate quantity of the product to save them from the middlemen who sold to them at exorbitant prices.
Mr Tsornyake said the middlemen normally sold seven gallons of the premix fuel to them for between GH¢120 and GH¢150 instead of the actual price of GH¢65.
He stated that the situation had arisen because instead of the community’s premix fuel distribution committee giving out the commodity to the fishermen, that duty had been given to people who are not in the industry.
“Most of those supplied with the premix fuel are not fishermen and when we report to the district assembly at Asesewa, nothing is done about it because they are in power,” Mr Tsornyake alleged.
“There is a lot of fish in the lake but we cannot catch them because there is no premix fuel, and this has brought a lot of hardship on us. If we are not careful the fishing business will collapse and we will not be able to repay loans contracted from the banks,” he lamented.
Empty boats berthed
The Chairman of the Inland Canoe Fishermen Council at Akateng, Ossom Asiah Tetteh Mausour, also told the Daily Graphic that the lack of the product had forced the fishing boat owners to berth their empty boats along the shores of the lake for a long time, and that had seriously affected their earnings and their ability to cater for themselves and dependants.
He said the lack of the product had also made it impossible for the boats to ferry livestock, particularly cattle, sheep, goats among other things across the lake to the Akateng market for sale.
A fishmonger who is also a boat owner, Joyce Ayittah, told the Daily Graphic that the acute shortage of the premix fuel had adversely affected the price of fish in the market.
She said most of the fishmongers who bought GH¢1,000 worth of fish, after selling them at places such as Accra and other parts of the country had to come back with half of that amount because they sold at a loss.
Transportation, fish cost
Madam Ayittah stated that the high cost of transportation had aggravated the situation, as such they did not know what to do to make ends meet.
“Most of us the fishmongers and boat owners find it difficult to even pay light bills, let alone school fees of our children in tertiary institutions, so we beg the government to do something about the premix fuel situation,” she cried out.
Some housewives who went to the market to buy fish, Sarah Ayittah and Joyce Vede, told the Daily Graphic that the price for fish was too high, and as such they could not buy what they wanted.
They attributed the situation to the lack of premix fuel for the fishermen to go fishing, since that was the only way they could have the required fish in the market.
A visit to the lakeside by the Daily Graphic last Wednesday revealed that some empty canoes had been berthed at the shores with fishermen sitting near the canoes doing nothing.
The Dadematse (community leader) of Akateng, Lawer Terkper, deplored the situation and said he had not been involved in the distribution of the premix fuel.
He pointed out that due to the inability of the fishermen to go fishing, fish had become so scarce that they had to depend on imported fish stored in cold stores.
When contacted, the Chairman of the Premix Fuel Distribution Committee, Jeremiah Nyebu, declined to speak on the current shortage of the commodity.
For his part, the District Chief Executive for Upper Manya Krobo, Joseph Sam, said the scarcity of the commodity had been a problem in all the fishing communities countrywide.
According to him, people who were not in fishing deceived members of the Premix Fuel Distribution Committee that they were fishermen and managed to secure the product for sale at exorbitant prices, which needed to stop.
He, however, indicated that he would see how best to make the product available in the required quantity for the fishermen at the actual price.