Posted on February 13, 2023
The Volta River Authority (VRA) has engaged residents of Agbeve and surrounding communities in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region, ahead of plans to begin dredging operations in the lower Volta River.
The community engagement was aimed at sensitising residents along the river on the need to dredge the Volta River.
The proposed dredging would allow for the easy flow of the water into the sea, which was currently being hampered as a result of overgrown aquatic weeds and sand bars on the riverbed.
The community engagement became necessary after the residents raised concerns over the intended dredging activities, alleging that the VRA brought in foreign vessels to prospect for minerals and not to dredge the river as they were made to believe.
The residents later secured an injunction at a Sogakope High Court restraining the VRA and Lower Volta Dredging Contractors from carrying out their operations.
They further secured an order from the same court compelling the VRA and the contractors, Lower Volta Dredging Contractors, to engage the community to get them to understand the concept.
There was no such engagement before the residents spotted the large dredging vessel on the river near their community in November 2022.
Mr Emmanuel Amekor, VRA resource person and consultant on the project, outlined some of the benefits associated with dredging the river.
The benefits include easy and rapid river flow into the sea, the prevention of water-borne diseases such as Bilharzia and River Blindness prevalent among residents living along the river.
He said the dredging would also increase the river’s depth, increasing the oyster and fish stock in the river, which were two major sources of livelihood for the residents along the Volta River.
Mr Amekor allayed the fears of the people, assuring them that, the dredging however was to be done in the main river from Akuse through Sogakope to the estuary at Ada which was nowhere close to the Angor River, which is a tributary close to the Agbeve community.
He appealed to the community to join efforts to dredge the river which he observed was in the general interest of the people.
Dr. Sylva Vortia, a native of the area who had been championing the cause of the local people, who made a presentation on behalf of the residents, appealed to the VRA to halt its dredging operations in the Angor River a tributary of the Volta River which serves the Agbeve community.
According to Dr Vortia, the Angor River was the only source of livelihood for the residents, who were mostly fisherfolk and oyster harvesters who relied heavily on the river for survival.
He explained that the dredging activities, which began late last year but were put on hold following the court injunction because it was polluting the river.
It was also damaging the modern water treatment plant built by the community to supply clean drinking water to the residents and killing the oyster and fish stock in the river.
Dr Vortia said the community, though small, had engaged in many self-help projects including modern classroom blocks for the Kindergarten, Primary and Junior High Schools, the construction of a modern water closet (WC) toilet facility, among others.
He was hopeful that with self-determination and communal service and spirit the community would be transformed, abd into a utopia and a model for other communities along the river.