The workers have expressed the fear that the company may soon fold up if immediate steps are not taken to revamp its operations.
Key equipment and machinery that help to generate funds for the upkeep of the company are in a deplorable state. Apart from the dilapidating nature of the two pusher tugs – MV Volta Queen and Buipe Queen – the story is not different with the ferries operated by the company. A thorough assessment on the ferries has revealed that the MV Ndewura Jakpa and Nana Bessemua are semi-functional, as each operates on only one engine, instead of two, making the journey on such ferries very dangerous.
That of the MV Yapei Queen has rusty rail guards, posing a danger to the crew and passengers. The metal floor of the passenger lavatory is also rusty, whilst the glass in the window of the third cabin is broken and exposing passengers to the vagaries of the weather. The compartment for firefighting hoses and materials was empty, with one of the engines of the vessel also malfunctioning.
The Yapei Queen, which plies the Volta Lake from Akosombo to Yeji every Monday, also operates with only one steering instead of two, with its radar system broken down. The faulty engines of the three ferries have also affected the time which they use to make their journeys from one community to the other. For instance, a journey from Yeji to Makango that a ferry with two engines makes in 45 minutes now takes two hours.
So, instead of the ferry making four trips per day, it is now doing two trips, with lots of difficulties. One of the crew members, who did not want his name mentioned for fear of victimization, said the ferries were no more attractive to passengers due to their present conditions. The situation, he noted, had hugely affected revenue inflow, but failed to give some details as how much the MV Yapei Queen makes per trip from Akosombo to Yeji, and vice versa.
The ferry-crossing service was set up by the VLTC to provide safe, efficient, and reliable 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 across the road network. Without these services, communities around the ferry stations will be cut off from the rest of the country. Both passengers and cargo are transported from the stations.
“We pride ourselves as providing safe, efficient and reliable ferry services, but my brother, those days are gone. Our ferries are no more efficient and reliable, and they keep on breaking down. Our lives, including that of passengers, are always on the line when making a journey from one point to the other. Management knows the problems, but we don’t know why they are not addressing them. Maybe, they don’t think about our safety and that of passengers who use our services,” argued the crew member.
The situation, The Chronicle learnt, has existed for two years, with management showing little concern in giving the company a facelift. The Managing Director of the VLTC, Eric Kweku Yarboi, when contacted on the issue, acknowledged the numerous problems confronting the company, but noted that lack of funds had made things difficult in addressing them.
He said the company had received some engines from the World Bank, but had no money to contract engineers to fix them. Asked whether revenue generated internally was not enough to pay for such services, he answered in the negative, noting that ferry services the world over was not a profit venture.