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500 Life guards graduate

BY: Benjamin Glover & Della Russel Ocloo
 Prosper Abochie receiving the overall best trainee award from Kwaku Ofori-Asiamah, the Minister of Transport. Picture: DELLA RUSSEL OCLOO
Prosper Abochie receiving the overall best trainee award from Kwaku Ofori-Asiamah, the Minister of Transport. Picture: DELLA RUSSEL OCLOO

Five hundred people who have been trained as lifeguards under the Volta Lake Transport Enhancement Project (VLTEP) have passed out.

The trainees, drawn from 40 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies in the North East, Northern, Savannah, Bono East, Volta, Oti and the Greater Accra regions, will be deployed along the country’s major water transport routes to help save lives.

The Basic Water Safety and Life Guard Training Course, executed in partnership with Ecozoil, a subsidiary of the Jospong Group of Companies, the Ministry of Transport and the Ghana Navy, seeks to deploy lifeguards equipped with the basic skills in water survival and rescue operations to ensure the safety of commuters on the Volta Lake.

The project also seeks to maintain cleanliness at the various landing sites, provide safety education to both boat operators and commuters, as well as provide life jackets to commuters to protect them on the lake.

It was first launched in 2011 under Zoil Services Limited with the mandate to ensure the safety of passengers along the Volta Lake as well as the provision of life jackets to commuters and improve upon the sanitary conditions of the landing sites.

The relaunch of the programme in July last year seeks to train and enrol over 1,000 young people.

Graduation

At a colourful passing out parade at the Eastern Naval Command in Tema yesterday, the Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, said enhancing the accessibility and safety of inland water transport had become necessary to ensure affiliated communities had better access to socio-economic services.

The improvement projects, which he said was being sponsored by the Korean Exim Bank, had seen the ministry completing feasibility study works.

The initiative by Ecozoil, Mr Asiamah stressed sought to ensure the safety of commuters on the Volta Lake through the engagement of young people from adjoining communities of the lake and equip them with the basic skills to undertake rescue operations.

“As part of the VLTEP, 10 landing stages will be constructed with provisions for a new shipyard facility for shipbuilding and repairs and these facilities, we believe, will go a long way to support the ongoing effort to position the Volta Lake as a major transportation artery,” Mr Ofori-Asiamah said.

While commending the management of Ecozoil for the intervention, Mr Ofori-Asiamah gave an assurance that government would complement the intervention by the company by providing free life jackets for commuters on the Volta Lake as a means of assuring safety, the provision of safety education among others.

Shared partnership

The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, in his remarks said the increasing rate of accidents on the Volta Lake necessitated deepening collaboration among stakeholders and the Ghana Navy to help minimise the occurrence.

Citing an April 14, 2022 boat accident at Dzemeni in the South Dayi District in the Volta Region which claimed many lives, Rear Admiral Yakubu pointed out that the accident could have been prevented if the necessary safety precautions were taken.

Rear Admiral Yakubu also stressed that the Ghana Navy had established the Riverine Command to integrate all of its detachments on the Volta Lake and other river bodies into a single command.

“We look forward to collaborating with Ecozoil to deliver the much needed safety and other development activities on the river bodies,” he said.

Ecozoil

The Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group, Joseph Siaw Agyepong, said the VLTSP had become necessary because of the challenges bedevilling transportation on the Volta Lake and other water bodies, making that mode of transport unattractive to many people.

"Transportation on the Volta Lake is plagued with challenges, including lack of life jackets for commuters, overloading on boats, and lack of safety education on the lake," he lamented.

Mr Agyepong expressed his appreciation to the Navy for opening its doors and accepting to train the group.

He announced the company’s decision to procure three speed boats for the Ghana Navy to help support its naval operations and sea patrols.

Welcome Address

The Flag Officer Commanding of the Eastern Naval Command (ENC), Commodore Emmanuel Ayensu Kwafo, said the Ghana Navy, working in partnership with the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), had deployed personnel at Tapa-Abotoasi, Yeji, Dambai, Kete Krachi, Kpando-Torkor, Atimpoku, Akosombo, and Ada Foah to ensure safety and security on the inland water bodies.