Boat disasters: Let’s use fibreglass

Accra, Mr Benedict Lamptey, Managing Director, Fiberglass Ghana, has described fibreglass boats as the best technology to address incidents of boat disasters in the country.

He said with the advent of climate change where water bodies had become more turbulent for fishing and safe transport systems, what Ghana needed was fibreglass boats.

Yesterday, Saturday May 27, a boat disaster on the Black Volta in the Savannah Region killed one person, with about five others missing.

In March this year, five out of 100 persons were reported to have died after their dugout boat capsized while travelling from Azizanya to attend a funeral at Azizakpe in the Ada East District of the Greater Accra Region.

At Faana Bortianor, in the Greater Accra region, nine children died after the boat in, which they were being ferried capsized earlier in the year.

Mr Lamptey, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), bemoaned the use of dugout canoes for fishing and transportation, which he said was accounting for the rising cases of boat disasters along the Volta Lake and in coastal areas in the Eastern and Northern regions.

He explained that the wood materials used in constructing the dugout canoes had weaker composition when in contact with water.

Mr Lamptey said also, the rising temperature levels due to climate change caused the wood to rot within a short time resulting in imbalances in movements of the boats causing accidents.

He said through the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority, Fibreglass Ghana had built 20 fishing boats for use along the coastal belts, with none involved in such accidents so far.

Also, with support from some philanthropists, Fibreglass Ghana had constructed boats for some communities in the Northern and Volta regions along the Volta Lake, promoting safer water transport, Mr Lamptey said.

He said apart from averting deadly boat accidents, phasing out dugout boats would protect the environment because their raw material was timber.

Captain Retired Kwame Osei, Chief Engineer of Fibre Glass Ghana, said: ‘It is sad to note that for decades now, no year had passed without one disaster or another occurring in communities along the Volta Lake like Dambai, Abotoase, Kpedzi, Tsevi and Agyatakope. ‘

He attributed the situation to structural design of dugout canoes, which he said had shortfalls in the construction of body parts covering the keel, hull, and beams of such boats affecting their buoyancy and stability, making them capsize easily when the weather was challenging.

He said locally constructed canoes and water boats by Fibre Glass Ghana had undergone vigorous trials under rough weather conditions on the Volta Lake and the sea without their stability and robustness affected.

There was also no case of collision with objects in water bodies.

Captain Rtd. Osei said Fibreglass Ghana with support from Professor Anthony Kwame Ardiabah of Final Vision Technology in Canada, had developed a local tracking system comprising a quantum server with the capacity to track and monitor all maritime activities of canoes at sea, lakes and rivers operating in the maritime and inland water space.

He said the tracker was a relevant technology for the marine industry to determine weather patterns as a warning sign and also security system to identify vessels and their contents within Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for prior information, especially fishing trawlers that operated illegally closer to the EEZ within Ghana’s territorial zone.

Sing Lana Naa Sheri II, Chief of Sing in the Kumbungu District of Northern Region, who got a fibreglass boat for his community, said: ‘ Since we started using the fiberglass boats in September last year, these boats have been the safest means of transporting people in our area, especially when the Kumbungu Dam is opened, because they are very solid and stable without any records of disaster so far.’

He appealed to central and local governments, traditional rulers and philanthropists to help address the issue of perennial boat disasters by procuring fibreglass boats for communities in coastal areas.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2020 reports that flooding events, rainfall, and sea erosion will continue to increase in magnitude, frequency, durations and severity in Ghana and sub Saharan Africa in the 21st century due to climate change.

The systematic warming of the planet is directly causing global mean sea level along countries around the Atlantic Ocean, making water bodies more turbulent with rising temperature levels, the IPCC says.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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