Importance of rail transport cannot be compromised

At a time Ghanaian authorities are doing all they can to develop rail transport, it is reported that metal thieves have stolen 50 kilometres of rail tracks across Ghana.

Chunks of the metals are said to have been stolen over some months now from the lines at Ejisu, Konongo, Juaso, Obuasi, Dunkwa-on-Offin, Akrokeri, Kaase, Asafo, and Asawasi.

Over the decades such thefts have persisted. For instance, on October 20, 1997,a news reporsaidthe Ghana Railway Company (GRC) office inTakoradi  (Western Region) on October 15 detected the theft of bolts and nuts that had rendered about 300 feet of the central rail line impassablebetween Nyinase and Twifo Praso.

Some other such thefts were reported on June 17, 2020 and recent ones on March 10, April 13 and June 11, all this year.

The thefts are worrying, considering the high cost of rail construction. In the current case, the stolen 50 km of rail lines cost the nation $250 million because a kilometre of a railway is estimated at $5million.

The removal of the rail lines and the need to buy the same metals hampers the development of rail transport in the country.

The Ghanaian Times knows that in some of the cases, the thieves are arrested as it was, for example, the cases reported in the media on April 23 and June 11, this year.

Are punishments for culprits in such cases of nation wreckage deterrent enough?

The buyers of the stolen metals or, better still, where they are sold are known. For instance, in the October 1997 theft in the Western Region, a statement from the GRC said the stolen bolts and nuts were sold to spare parts dealers at Suame Magazine in Kumasi and Kokompe in Accra.

It is also the fact that scrap dealers buy the rail metals as scraps.

What is intriguing is that in spite of all this information, not so much has been done to stop this crime, such that its perpetrators persist in it with all the impunity that spites the whole nation.

It is worthy of note that rail metal theft is not peculiar to Ghana because even The UK is grappling with it, including cables used in running its electric rail transport.

In that regard we can agree with The UK authorities that urgent action is required and that should include rigorous enforcement of the law.

The Ghanaian Times fully agrees with this point but wishes to add rigorous enforcement would produce results only when the law is deterrent enough.

Therefore, that paper appeals to the Ghanaian authorities to check the law and do the needful.

The UK real sector authorities also say “Improving security for remote areas and locations is a solution that could be implemented straight away.”

It is not easy for a Ghana to get all the funds to ensure the kind of security needed to, at least, drastically reduce the rail metal thefts.

Therefore, the paper joins the Minister for Railways Development, John Peter Amewu, in his appeal published in the media on June 18, 2021 that the public should support the government to protect railway assets from theft.

This is important because the railway holds a lot of advantages that can aid the country’s development.

For instance, it is a better organised form of transport for its fixed routes and schedules, making its service more certain or dependable..

It also has high speed over long distances; suitable for bulky and heavy goods; cheaper; safe; and has larger capacity to carry passengers and goods.

Besides, it faces no traffic jam and saves roads from the pressures of heavy loads.

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