The Ministry of Railways Development (MRD) as part of its effort at revamping and generating interest in rail transport in the country has instituted a monthly dialogue series in Accra.
Dubbed: “The Railway Dialogue Series” it is a platform aimed at bringing together experts, academics, investors and the general public to deliberate on possible ways of making rail transport viable and complimentary to existing transport systems in the country.
Speaking at the inaugural dialogue in Accra last Friday, Professor Cornelius Nuworsoo, a researcher with the University of California Transportation Centre said the decision by the government to focus attention on rail transport was a good one which must be supported by all Ghanaians.
He said while rail transport had proven to be the cheapest form of transportation, much work was needed to ensure that its benefits were harnessed for national development.
Prof. Nuworsoo said there was no need for the country to re-invent the wheel by developing its own rail network system but must review existing systems across the world and adopt best practices for its own development.
“The talk is to review the case for rail as a compliment to air and highways systems in addressing congestion and providing needed additional capacity and services as population continues to grow and linkages with neighbouring countries expand,” he emphasised.
Citing the Japanese example, he said railway companies in Japan, for instance engaged not only in train operations, but also in land development and retail operations to diversify revenue streams and increase ridership on the lines.
Prof. Nuworsoo said adoption of a good intermodal connections would not only provide convenient access and ease of transferring goods and people between local and regional areas, but would also lead to increased and/or upgraded development of residential, retail, work and cultural land uses in the vicinity of station areas.
He said it was important that Ghanaians took particular interest in this sector adding that “Unless we develop the rail system as a complimentary transport network in the country, our roads will continue to be in deplorable state because no matter how many times we fix them, they will quickly deteriorate due to the volumes and pressure on it.”
The Minister of Railways Development, Mr Joe Ghartey on his part said
the dialogue series was to help the government to fall on the varied expertise and
knowledge that abounds across the country from both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians
“The objective of our engagement is to engage with our stakeholders to ensure that any individual or organisation that is directly or indirectly affected by government policies for the railway sector, as well as any plan or ongoing developments within the sector, becomes part of the development process,” he added.
He said, President Akufo-Addo was committed to leaving a lasting legacy in the sector and no stone would be left unturned to ensure that it was achieved.
“The President has prioritised the railway sector to serve as a catalyst for the industrialisation and the socio-economic development of our nation,” he added.
By Cliff Ekuful