General Secretary of the Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, has backed the decision of the new government to actively engage private investors to revamp the country’s inland water transport networks.
According to him, the potential of inland water transport on socio-economic growth has been held back because the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC), the state institution tasked to operate water-borne transport on the Volta Lake, is faced with issues of inadequate financing and poor working conditions of both employees and equipment.
When he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori-Asiamah, said his ministry will engage private sector businesses that may want to take up investments in the inland water transport sector.
He said: “As a government, we will provide the enabling environment, the appropriate tax regimes and legal frameworks to entice private investors to transform inland water transport in the country.”
To the MDU boss, such an intervention will be timely in enhancing the viability of transport on the Volta Lake.
“The Volta Lake presents a good opportunity for the country to develop a strong inland water transport system which would form an integral part of an intermodal transport system.
An effective inland water transport system, aside from carting passengers, fuel and other cargo from the south to northern parts of the country, will boost tourism and trade related fortunes.”
The Volta Lake Transport Company Limited is the state institution that has been mandated to provide north-to-south water-borne transport for persons and freight on the Volta Lake.
The company operates a fleet of passenger vessels, cargo ships and barges, totaling 19 sailing vessels.
The VLTC currently provides ferry services at Yeji (Brong- Ahafo), Kete-Krachi and Dambai, both in the Volta Region and Adawaso in the Afram Plains.
The ferries serve as bridges where the lake has cut through the road network, and without the ferry services, communities around the ferry stations will be cut off from the rest of the country.
According to Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, the Volta Lake Transport Company can play a very important role in socio-economic development if it is adequately financed to operate efficiently as a robust inland water transport business.
“The company requires massive investment in the acquisition of equipment and vessels as well as a strategic management that can motivate employees of the company to operate at its maximum potential,” he said.