‘Railway needs investment to propel economy’

railwayThe railway sector needs new investment to propel the country’s economic growth, Godwill Ntarmah, General Secretary of the Railway Workers Union (RWU), has said.

He said the railway sector in Ghana was experiencing its worst times, due to neglect and lack of investment, saying that the time has come for the railway to become an integral part of Ghana’s development agenda and prosperity.

Mr. Ntarmah said these here at the first anniversary of the Women’s Committee for RWU and the 33rd anniversary of the Railway Ladies Association, to round off their activities for 2014.

The two anniversaries were held on the theme: “Is the railway still relevant to economic growth: Why the benign neglect?”

Mr. Ntarmah said railway was relevant to economic development and blamed managers, who had the mandate to rule and make choices for the sector for creating the current deplorable state of the railway industry.

“As if the neglect and the disinvestment wasn’t enough, the assets of the only railway operator in the country, Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRL), per Act 2008 was also transferred to the newly created Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) and so GRCL as it stands has no control over the assets hitherto under its care,” he said.

He asked: “How can a company like the GRCL operate without assets? It is evident that GRCL has been neglected to die,” stating that rail workers could no longer rely on many promises made to revamp the sector.

Mr. Ntarmah therefore called on all stakeholders to join forces with the RWU to demand the restructuring of the sector, saying that railway was one of the important and efficient transport for economic development, as it could reduce the carnage on our roads and improve its lifespan.

Rail transport, he said, was more fuel efficient than road transport, citing the USA whose rail freight was 63 per cent more fuel efficient than road transport.

Besides, Mr. Ntarmah said the economy of scale of railway transport made it relatively cheaper as its containers cost about 20 per cent less than road transport.

The cost advantages, he said, continued to reduce as the distance increased, adding that, environmentally, the carbon footprint of railway transport, was also minimal.

The General Secretary paid tribute to workers who voluntarily accepted to undertake an exercise to haul bauxite from Awaso and prayed that their efforts would not be in vain.

The Chairperson of the Railway Ladies Association, Eleanor Aikins said Ghana Railway plays a strategic role in the economic development of the country with the benefits trickling down to every sector of the economy, including the transportation of bulk haulage of minerals, farm produce, cash crops like cocoa and timber.

She said a country receives enormous financial gains from railway service, therefore, “we cannot allow our railway to die”.

Mr. Abakah Amoah, a former Public Relations Manager of the GRCL, said in the past railway was the focus of economic activities in the country with the rail stations becoming the nerve centre of commerce in the immediate neighbourhoods.

From Clement Adzei  Boye,
Takoradi

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