……As Aquatic Weeds Takes Over The Volta River.
Aquatic weeds are rapidly taking over the Volta River, destroying livelihood of fishermen, especially in the North Tongu District in a community called Mepe and paving way for bilharzia infection for the women and children who drink from the river, since it’s their source of drinking water and daily domestic use.
These unwanted aquatic weeds makes it impossible for fishermen to make any catch when they cast their nets since the nets hang on the weeds making it difficult for the nets to trap the fishes. Some of the fishes get trapped under all these weeds and some even die due to their habitat no longer being conducive for them to live and multiply in. The weeds also breeds fresh water snails, which carries the parasite that causes the infection of bilharzia. Bilharzia is caused by coming into contact with water infested with river snails which produces the parasitic worms which causes bilharzia, some symptoms a person with bilharzia experiences is frequent urination, blood in urine, coughing, headache, infertility, diarrhea, skin rashes, vagina bleeding, weight loss, itching, poor appetite, and death.
Several concerns have been made known to the government about the rising of these dangerous weeds but all the pleas has fell on deaf ears.
TorgbeManklaloKwasiNego VI, Dutor of Mepe traditional area in an interview stated that, “Government should come to our aid to help remove these dangerous aquatic weeds in the river to avoid the downfall of the economic and health status of the community”.
TorgbeManklaloKwasiNego IV, Dutor of Mepe
TorgbeManklaloKwasiNego VI, Dutor of MepeTradional Area
He further on said “ the cause of the appearance of these weeds is as a result of the construction of the Akosombo Dam and the Kpong Dam. It has reduced how the river is supposed to flow that is, its speed which was around 84,000 plus, but now doesn’t flow that fast I can say it now flows 1,0000, making it easier or suitablefor weeds to grow in the river which is threatening the livelihood of these fishermen and if this problem is not solved now, in the future the aquatic weeds will overtake the whole river and soon the river will go to an extinction. The solution is for the weeds to be drenched including some of the sands in the river to make it easy for the river to flow at its speed once more. The weeds can even be later processed into fertilizer which is good for farming”.
A local fisherman expressed their frustration of not catching any fish after spending hours casting the net and being on the river. In an interview, Mr. EtseDorvi said “ In the olden days our ancestors were fishermen,which was our main occupation and our women were engaged in oyster fishing which made them rich because the meat of the oyster is a local delicacy which is wildly patronize by both the local people and foreigners.The shells of the oysters were used for making Akallo which was used for making white paint and the same shells was used for making concrete by mixing the oyster shells with sand and cement for our buildings and also the shells are used for making poultry feed, but after the weed started taking over the oysters have gone into extinction and the only place to get some is in Ada but even with that it is depleting in numbers since it doesn’t have its suitable environment to multiply”.
“Currently we are out of jobs because we are not catching anything, so we are not able to take care of our children and wives as a result many parents are forced to move to Accra to go look for work leaving their children behind with their grandmothers and some of them are now self parents who are taking care of themselves without their parents and you know what happens when childrendon’t have parental influence, they become wayward that is why there is high rise of teenage pregnancy in the community ”, Mr. EtseDorvi said.
According to the committee for Aquatic Fisheries, they are working around the clock to attend to the problem in the community but it is expensive to get the equipment for drenching the weeds out of the river and they have sent a letter to the Volta River Authority to aid in resolving the problem. But unfortunately they haven’t had a feedback from the office of VRA. They are trying to allocate funds to resolve since the countless plea to the Government has proved fruitless. The committee for aquatic fisheries also said they are in talks with a private company who will like to drench the weeds and sands from the river for they fertilizer process but the process has been delayed due to reasons unknown to them. The traditional councilhas sent countless letters to request an audience with the office of the VRA but no response has been made by the VRA further measures are being taken to contact the Ministry of HEALTH concerning the health of the Mepe community being at risk of the Aquatic weeds and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries concerning the predicament faced by the fishermen of the North Tongu District but no responses has been made from the offices of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
The people of the North Tongu District have tried getting rid of the weeds themselves but they are unable to dive that deep to get rid of the weeds since it requires the use of proper equipment to effectively carry out the task. The chiefs and Traditional rulers are calling out to private institutions who will be interested in drenching the weeds and sands from the river to help eradicate this impeding effects that’s is affecting the townsfolk.
Belinda Agyiri Duodu.