Government is committed to transforming the railway sector, to become the backbone of the economic transformation that will lift Ghana from a middle-income into a developed country, the Minister for Railways Development, Mr. Joe Ghartey, has declared.
He said, the dream of an effective railways system in Ghana was achievable and government need not fail.
Mr. Ghartey gave this assurance when he met the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Ghana Railway Workers Union (GRWU) here on Friday, to discuss activities of 2016, and also to chart the way forward.
He said a group of foreign investors intended to build a factory in Takoradi to manufacture and supply equipment and inputs for building railway infrastructure, would visit the country, for negotiations to begin.
Mr. Ghartey said “This year will see preparation taking off in this sector. Technical and financial arrangements are being made to fulfil the vision of railway network from Accra to Paga, sub-urban rail from Accra to Nsawam and Kumasi to Ejisu, as well as light rail for our cities”.
He said “Rail terminals or what some call inland ports is a major source of revenue. Every station can be an economic hub. The train itself is a moving space for advertisement and an additional income. Every opportunity abounds and I am confident that we will expand this sector to fulfill the President’s vision and lead Ghana into the next level of economic development.”
Mr. Ghartey noted that the Ghana Railway Company Limited, a limited liability company, faced economic difficulties, because it depends on the government for capital injection for the payment of salaries and other expenditure.
He discussed the legal status of the Ghana Railways Development Authority (GRDA), and said that there was the need for another look at the Railways Act, Act 2008 on assets of the GRC vested in the authority, which did not have the technical and professional expertise.
Mr. Ghartey proposed “We must relook this situation. We must relook the ownership of the assets” and asked “does rolling stock used by the GRC belong to the Company or GRDA by virtue of section 32 of the Railways Act?”
He said all these brought into question the larger question of the institutional framework for the railways sector in Ghana.
The General Secretary of the GRWU, Mr. Godwill Ntarmah, said that the creation of the new Ministry for Railways would not alone address the woes of the GRC, and said that adequate planning was key to bringing the new dream into reality.
From Clement Adzei Boye, Takoradi