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Designate VLTC as fully owned para-statal

Accra, July 19, GNA – Dr Kwabena Donkor,
Member of Parliament for Pru East, has called on the Minister of Transport and
other relevant Ministries to take steps to upgrade the Volta Lake Transport
Company (VLTC) to a fully-fledged parastatal.

In an advocacy statement for the people living
around the Volta Lake catchment area- the Northern, Brong Ahafo, Eastern and
the Volta Regions, Dr Donkor explained that they had paid a significant price
for the creation of the lake, and “it is time the Ghanaian state recognises the
suffering and sacrifice of this group by developing water borne transportation
on the lake.”

In the statement made on the floor of the
House on Tuesday, Dr Donkor, who is also a former Minister of Power, argued
that justice and equity demand that “the people of the Volta Basin be provided
modern water borne transportation infrastructure and it is incumbent on the
Ghana State to provide such. “

The Volta River Development Authority Act (Act
46 of 1961) imposes on the Authority the obligation, as stipulated in Section
10 d of the Act, ”the provision, when and as far as practical, of facilities
and assistance for the development of the lake as a source of fish, and as a
route for the transportation of goods and passengers.”

It was pursuant to that mandate that the
company was set up on February 23, 1970 and incorporated under the Companies
Code of 1963 to operate as public carrier of all forms of water borne transport
and freight on the Volta Lake.

The lake has a surface area of 3,283 square
miles; and the VLTC serves a population of at least two million citizens in the
four regions of its catchment area.

The creation of the Akosombo Dam on the Volta
Lake, that unleashed an electrical might for the building of the city of Tema,
but at a price to the inhabitants of the catchment area of the Volta River.

Dr Donkor said: “Their ancestral lands,
cultural groves, fishing and hunting grounds, graves of ancestors, shrines and
everything that anthropologically makes a people, were buried under the gushing
inflows of the newly blockaded impoundment. The spiritual and cultural heritage
of these indigenes was disrupted in one big rupture of water.

“As a little kid, I saw my grandmother’s three
room house with kitchen at Yeji Salt Town go into the belly of the forcefully
onrushing waters of the new Volta Lake. The River that we had known had become
overnight a lake whose flowing dynamic had been abruptly arrested by a new
concrete block, the like of which that land had never seen before.

“In the place of the three bedroom house, the
Ghanaian State provided my grandmother, the matriarch of the family a one room
uncompleted structure called a Resettlement Home at Nsuano Quarters in uphill
Yeji.

“Right Honourable Speaker, the lot of the
indigenes of the people of the Volta and their sacrifice made for the huge
industrial development of Ghana by hydro power.”

Linking the deterioration of that VLTC to the
neglect of the people in the catchment area, Dr Donkor informed the House that
the Volta River Authority (VRA) recorded losses of GH
¢2.3 billion between 2011
and 2015 financial years.

The parent company, the VRA is financially
incapacitated, and the dependent VLTC drowning without any new investment from
its sole shareholder, and having management issues, with consequent lousy
services by a derelict VLTC.

Ironically, despite the sacrifices of the
people in the catchment areas, they are the last to get access to electricity,
and a number of them do not have access even though national penetration of
about 85 percent, Dr Donkor noted.

He suggested that the State take over from VRA
the equity ownership of the company and put it on the same pedestal as the
Metro Mass Transit Company, and bring the VLTC directly under the Ministry of
Transport.

Other areas of investment in the company, the
Pru East legislator suggested are the establishment of new landing beaches,
improved navigational aids, human capital development, new and specialised
ferries and hovercrafts, barges and tug boats and dredging equipment.

“A strong VLTC would provide the necessary
elixir for aquaculture development as a prelude to agro processing in the
catchment area,” Dr Donkor said.

GNA

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