Gov’t to revamp rail transport

Joyce Bawa Mogtari Deputy Min. of Transport (5)Mrs. Joyce Bawa Mogtari, Deputy Minister of Transport, has said that government was taking concrete steps to address the infrastructural challenges confronting the railway sector, to make it responsive to the country’s socio-economic needs.

She said though rail transport play significant role in national development, the deterioration of tracks, lack of locomotives and managerial challenges had affected the sector.

Mrs Mogtari gave the assurance at the railway workers union (RWU), National Executive Council meeting here on the theme: ‘Revamping the rail sector in Ghana-A necessity for economic transformation.’

The deputy minister said while government was taking steps to develop management strategies to revamp railway transport, Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) has been charged to regulate and implement such plans.

“We have plans to rehabilitate, modernise and expand Ghana’s ailing rail network. Currently, out of the 947 kilometers track of rail lines, only 130 of the entire network is operational with freight services provided on the stretches of the line from Nsuta to Takoradi Port, and passenger services to Tema and Accra and Accra to Nsawam,” she said.

Mrs Mogtari said the government with internal resources was reconstructing the Takoradi -Sekondi via Kojokrom sub-urban railway to provide commuter passenger services to ease road traffic congestion within the Sekondi- Takoradi metropolis.

The General Secretary of the RWU, Mr. Godwill Ntarmah, said the union was worried that some unpatriotic staff of the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) had aided private individuals to encroach land belonging to the company.

Mr. Ntarmah said the union would collaborate with the government and the GRDA to protect the remaining land.

He appealed to the government to release funds for the company to be able to procure spare parts for locomotives, to ensure haulage of manganese ore, and the operation of passenger services from Accra to Nsawam and Accra to Tema.

He said “the locomotives, currently in operation, have not seen any major maintenance since the 90s,” adding that train remain the most efficient, safest and cheapest mode of transport for mass movement of people and goods.

Mr. Ntarmah noted that the revamping of the rail sector in Ghana would not be difficult, given the vast   knowledge and experience acquired by workers in the rail sector, saying “all that is required is political will and financial investment”.

On job security of railway workers, he said in 1993, more than 1,300 workers were retrenched, and in 2006, 674 workers were laid off, all with the view to take good care of the remaining workers, but the measure has not ensured the viability of the company.

From Clement Adzei Boye,Takoradi

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