The Volta River Authority (VRA) has signed a 1.3 million dollar agreement with Bluefone Marine Ghana Limited to refurbish the Dodi Princess, a multipurpose and popular cruise ferry, which was destroyed by fire May 4, 2012.
Mr. Fred Bart-Plange, General Manager, Akosombo Hotels Limited, said on Friday that with the 1.3 million dollar deal reached, the reconstruction period would take six months to complete, adding “we look forward to commence operations from September 01, 2013”
He said the VRA had taken pragmatic steps to make Dodi Island more attractive to both local and international tourists.
As part of the package, the VRA was putting up the first Game Park in West Africa that would have an aviary and an ostrich paddock among other animals like bush buk, kobs and zebras, he said.
Mr Bart-Plange said VRA would also operate other tourism activities such as fishing safari, kayaking, canoeing, Jet Ski ride and other water sports.
Mr Eric Nyarko, Managing Director of Bluefone Marine Ghana Limited, said the company was entirely Ghanaian owned hence local staff and consultants were going to be engaged in the rebuilding process but added that, some technical advice might be sought from outside.
He said about 80 percent of the equipments and materials needed for commencement of work had been acquired and with the signing ceremony, work would start immediately.
He said the company was pre-financing the project which VRA would pay back in three years.
Captain Benny Whalley, Master Mariner, Bluefone Marine, explained that the vessel would be built to suit Ghanaian conditions with more stability to contain a swinging situation where passengers would move to one side.
He said the vessel would have a better visibility, good control system, a rescue boat, increased speed to reduce travelling hours and the capacity to reduce electricity consumption.
Captain Whalley said the multipurpose ferry would have passenger capacity of 350 with 10 toilet facilities, air conditioning and dining hall among other facilities. Also, quality control measures from its partners were being carefully observed to ensure that the new ferry meets international standards and best practices.
Dodi princess was commissioned in 1991 to entertain visitors who attended the Non-Alligned Movement (NAM) Conference.
After the conference, the VRA operated the 350 passenger capacity boat as a tourist vessel until May 4, 2012 when it was gutted by fire.
According to the Ghana National Fire Service, the fire started from the kitchen of the cruise vessel and quickly spread to other parts ravaging a greater part of it.
The cooks were believed to have left the boat without putting out the fire completely.
Ms. Akua Sena Dansua, the Minister of Tourism then, expressed disappointment about the incident and reiterated government’s commitment to collaborate with the VRA to replace the ferry.
Mr Kweku Awotwe, Chief Executive Officer of VRA, also pledged the authority’s support to work out ways to refurbish the Dodi Princess.