Ghana - 2.5 Waterways Assessment

Waterways Assessment 


For more information on waterway company contact details, please see the following link: 4.1 Government Contact List and 4.4 Port and Waterways Companies Contact List.

Company Information 

The Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC), incorporated in 1970, operates river transportation for passengers, bulk haulage of petroleum products and significant quantities of cement and cross-lake ferry services along the Volta Lake. As part of VLTC’s re-evaluation of strategies to attract funding to improve its operations, it plans to overhaul its aged and faulty vessels to improve efficiency and subsequently reduce the turn-around time for its services and operations. It has also considered acquiring or leasing additional barges to increase its capacity and fleet to enable it attracts a larger client base. 

The VLTC also plans to engage the Government of Ghana in exploring the synergies and commercial benefits of the intended Tema-Akosombo railway line and the Eastern Corridor Multi-Modal Transport Project (ECMMTP). This is to attract new markets and business opportunities that will increase productivity in port and transit services. 

VLTC was established with the following objectives: 

  • To operate as public carriers of all forms of water-borne transport including hovercraft, for persons and/or freight on the Volta Lake. 

  • To act as ship owners, charterers, warehousemen, storekeepers, bailees, wharfingers, lighter men, and stevedores. 

  • To operate such other forms of transport including rail and road transport as may be necessary for or ancillary to the business of the company. 

  • To do such other things or act as may be necessary for carrying out the business of the company. 

The operations of the Company fall under two main areas: 

  • North/South Operations 

North/South operations link the two in-land ports of Akosombo (South) and Buipe (North). The North/South operations involve the transportation of both liquid, solid cargo and passengers. 
Prospects for Wet/Liquid Cargo Operations: 
Currently with one pusher tug, the ‘MV Buipe with two VLTC petroleum barges and two BOST petroleum barges with total storage capacity of 3200 m3, the company has the capacity of transporting 90,310 m3 (76,800 tonnes) from Akosombo to Buipe, annually if the product were to be available.    

Prospects for Dry Cargo Operations: 
With one pusher tug and three barges which are in good condition supported by appropriate forklift trucks, VLTC has the capacity to transport 2,250 tonnes per week, or approximately 80,000 metric tons of solid cargo annually on the Akosombo to Buipe trip. This can in theory be doubled per year if cargo can be obtained for the Buipe to Akosombo leg. Reviews of previous performance records once again show that the company hardly achieves even 30% of this potential annually due to unavailability of cargo. 

Cement now constitutes almost exclusively the solid cargo transported by the company. Previously, significant quantities of fertilizer and cotton were transported on the northward and southward trips respectively. Due to the decline in cotton farming in the north, this business has been lost entirely.  Most of the shea-nut business has been lost to transporters from Burkina Faso on their trips to the Tema Port. 

Ferry Crossing Services 

VLTC operates cross ferry services at five (5) areas namely: Adawso (Eastern Region), Yeji (Brono- East Region), Kete-Krachi (Oti Region), Agordeke (Eastern Region) and Dambai (Oti Region). 

Prospects for Ferry Operations: 
The ferry services are mainly regarded as the social responsibility by the Government of Ghana towards communities displaced and cut off from existing road connections after the construction of the Volta Dam and the subsequent creation of the lake. Tariffs charged for the services have therefore never been able to cover direct operational as well as depreciation costs since tariffs set in recent times have been reduced after insistence from the local authorities. 

The company operates five (5) ferry crafts - "MV Millennium Challenge" at Adawso, "MV Nana Mprah Besemuna" at Yeji, "MV Senchi" at Dambai, "MV Damen Ferry" at Agordeke and "MV Freedom and Justice" at Kete-Krachi. There is also one ferry that is currently at the Akosombo Port waiting to be refurbished – “MV Ndewura Jakpa” as well as "MV Akrade" currently docked at Yeji. 

It is a well acknowledged fact that water provides the most cost-effective mode for the transport of goods through the economy of scale it offers compared to other modes of transport. VLTC’s operations on the Volta Lake are therefore more competitively priced compared to road transport which dominates the transport of goods and services. 

The company's price competitiveness is particularly evident in the haulage of bulk cargo fuel and cement from Akosombo to Buipe, at 415 kilometres distance. The freight paid to VLTC for the haulage of fuel to Buipe is normally set and approved by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) at 60 % of the rates approved for Bulk Road vehicles (BRV) and currently stands at 0.172470418Gp per litre of product for the trip. Given that the company can transport a minimum of 1.5 million litres weekly with its two (2) fuel barges, VLTC's fuel operations could potentially lead to more than GHS258,705 per week provided the vessels are in good condition. Each trip undertaken by VLTC also implies the withdrawal of the equivalent of 50 BRV’s from the country’s roads, leading to less damage to roads and fewer road accidents. 

With respect to the haulage of cement, VLTC currently charges GH¢48.40 per tonne for the trip of 415 km. This compares favourably with what is paid by GHACEM to road transporters for transporting cement at 721 km distance. In addition, each trip undertaken by VLTC again implies the non-use of the equivalent of 50 articulated road trucks on our roads. 

To improve the company's efficiency in the transportation of cement on the North/South route, efforts must be made to obtain cargo for the return trip, i.e., Buipe to Akosombo, without increasing the overall return trip time. Previous efforts in this direction have been largely unsuccessful due to the erratic delivery of the return cargo at Buipe, and its uncoordinated evacuation from Akosombo by customers. This situation often led to overall loss in revenue to the company. To redress this problem, scheduled and well-coordinated deliveries at Buipe, and prompt evacuation from Akosombo, are required. 

In 2021, the company carried the average of 647,000 passengers and 57,000 cars per year, on all its ferries. link 





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