Lower Prampram beach is a hub of canoe building

By Laudia Sawer

Prampram, Oct. 19, GNA-The Lower Prampram Beach does not only provide residents of Prampram and its environs fresh fish from the sea, but also serves as the hub of canoe building as several fishermen source their canoes from there. 

A few metres from the premises of the first Police Station built in Ghana in 1814 by the Danes and an abandoned fort, is a spectacle of canoe-shaped logs waiting for carving and polishing to get them ready to seal on the blue ocean eyeing them just across their resting place. 

The Ghana News Agency in Tema, during an expedition to the Lower Prampram Beach spotted some artisans busily chiselling and carving the inside of the log to bring out the shape of the canoe while creating space inside to accommodate the fisher folks and their fishing items. 

The canoes made from the Prampram shores are purchased by operators from both far and near including Togo, Guinea, and Cameroon among others. 

Mr. Nicolas Marnarh Martey, a canoe builder in his late 50s told the GNA that the canoe was the most important equipment in the fishing trade, adding that it therefore made their work an integral part of the fisheries sector. 

Mr. Martey said they acquire the logs partially shaped from the forest areas mostly from the Eastern, Western, Ashanti and the former Bono and Ahafo regions at a minimum cost of GHs2,000. 

He added that the cost of documentation and transportation greatly impacted on the final price of the canoes which could be at a maximum of GHs20,000.00 depending on its size. 

He explained that to transport the logs from the forests to Prampram, they engage the Forestry Commission through contractors to prepare the needed documentation and royalties. 

Mr. Martey added that they also apply for conveyance authorization from the Ningo-Prampram District Assembly which is forwarded to the Forestry Commission for the permit. 

He said a road permit and a police form were also needed to use the road to transport the logs to their destination. 

The canoe maker said when the logs reach the shore, a crane would be used to offload, after which they start working on them when a buyer comes and to make a choice. 

“We carve it until we get the expected level after which we will lift it and work on the back and sides after which a carpenter will then put in the needed woods to serve as seats for the fishermen,” he stated. 

Mr. Martey commenting on the lucrativeness of canoe making, said when he started the work with his grandfather in 1983, it was a promising venture adding that due to the depletion of the forests its prospects were dwindling. 

He said: “Now when you look at it, our grandfathers were into this business and handed it over to us, but now the forest is getting finished, the ones that are being planted to replace the natural ones are not as strong as those types.” 

He disclosed that he had discouraged his children from venturing into the trade, saying, “Someone like me I am not asking my children to get involved in this trade as the trees are getting finished so they may not get work to do in some years to come, so I am pushing them to rather focus on getting other jobs to do.” 

He explained that “if they learn it and do not get the material to work with, even we will be disappointed in putting them in such a trade, we are still doing this work because this is what we know how to do. It is also beneficial for the fishermen, so we see it as our contribution to the fishing sector.”