Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make brief comments on the Statement ably made by Hon Dr Kwabena Donkor, the Hon Member of Parliament for Pru East, on the need for the State to designate the Volta Lake Transport Company Ltd. as a fully owned parastatal.
Mr Speaker, in commending him on the Statement, I beg to quote a very succinct part of his presentation, which should be the import of Parliament's discussion; and probably, guidance for the decision you may want to take:
“Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that a modern well-resourced and well managed Volta Lake Transport Ltd would add considerably to the socio-economic development of the catchment area. Transporting food and other agricultural products to markets in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale etc. is unnecessarily gruelling and costly.”
Mr Speaker, he wants to see an end to it, and a country committed to taking advantage of its water resources in order to facilitate transportation by sea or water.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement calls for one course of action, which is that, should the Volta River Authority (VRA) continue to superintend or supervise the operations of a failing entity, the Volta Lake Transport Limited -- I again refer to a paragraph in
his Statement where he said that they have recorded loses of GH¢2.3million from 2011 to 2015, and he has an issue with the continuous dependence on the parent company, VRA.
Mr Speaker, I agree with him, and I associate myself with the Statement that the VRA should concentrate on its core mandate and business of generating electricity for our purposes, but not engage in the primary business of lake transportation. So, he calls for the state to establish a vehicle responsible for this way of transportation in our country, and to take it away from the VRA.
Mr Speaker, if we would recall, the VRA today runs, even the Volta Hotel in Akosombo. What business has VRA got to do with the running of a hotel? No.
Mr Speaker, I share the view of other Hon Members who contributed to this Statement that we should look for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, and invite the private sector to partner the Government, as an equity shareholder, in terms of the running of this institution in order to make it more effective and efficient.
So, the Volta Hotel could be jointly owned if we open it up through a transparent, diligent and competitive process in order that they could even expand the facility.
Mr Speaker, I agree with him that the VRA be excused from this burden. In any case, it is not the burden and obligation they perform to the satisfaction of Ghanaians or to themselves. They should focus on the generation of electricity, which remains a national challenge, and allow Volta Lake Transport Company Limited --
Mr Speaker, if Hon Dr Kwabena Donkor would recall, I was in his constituency around 2008/2009 with the then candidate, eventually President, John Mahama.
Between Atebubu -- after we had visited the head of the Islamic group, when the group of ex-President Mahama decided to go by pontoon, to quote the local people, I am sure a wind took them somewhere in the Volta Region instead of their designated place. It also indicates how we do not run lake transportation well.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement again made a brilliant comment. We started off with three ferries. Today, we have only one ferry.
Mr Speaker, I have had cause to advise, in my capacity then as the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, that Buipe should be situated as the industrial city of the Northern Region because of its link on the Volta Lake, and the fact that we can cart goods and services from this part of the country in the Volta Region, through the Eastern Region and to the Northern Region, Buipe. Mr Speaker, now Savannah Cement is doing very well.
In concluding, it reminds me that, as the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, I brought in a Chinese investor to the Northern Region and Tamale. He then said he wanted to drive through to Buipe and Daboya. When he landed in Tamale and watched the Tamale Airport, he said, “Haruna, I am back to Accra and back to China.
If I produce, would I carry the goods on my head?” I am quoting the Chinese investor. This is because at that time, there was no reliable transportation system to link the north to the south. At that time, the Tamale Airport was not international, and therefore, could not accommodate international flights.