General News of Thursday, 9 March 2017
Railways and development Minister, Joe Ghartey has indicated that government shall engage residents along rail lines nationwide in a dialogue to see how best they can have them move away from the tracks to ensure their safety.
Due to, new trains the Central Government intends to deploy in the railway subsector are the kinds that move very fast and as such it’s not safe to have individuals living along rail lines when such trains arrive in the near future.
Mr. Ghartey said this while addressing the media on the sidelines of an inspection tour of the Achimota rail line on Wednesday in Accra, where some ‘encroachers’ have put up several makeshift structures close to the rail line, striking fear in the minister about their safety when the new trains arrive.
According to Mr. Ghartey, “there are a lot of temperate structures along here that we must deal with but we are not going to deal with it in a violent manner.”
“We are going to make people understand that it’s not even safe for them to be there,” the Minister who has vowed to revamp the railways subsector underscored.
“When you have a slow train that comes along once in a while and makes a lot of noise you can live along the track, but the kind of train we are going to deploy is dangerous,” he warned.
There have been several reports of moving trains killing pedestrians across the country, the reason government is seeking to have such engagements long before the said ‘dangerous’ trains arrive simply to avoid the unnecessary loss of lives.
The minister lamented the deplorable state of the Achimota rail line where this paper saw some grounded and rusty coaches, saying “this is the state of our railways all across the country.”
He promised to work hard to ensure the holistic development of the railways subsector, noting that “yes, we will succeed and it just toughens and strengthens me to work harder to make sure that we succeed.”
Workers of the Ghana Railways Company who were undertaking the maintenance works on the Achimota rail line, complained to the minister about poor working conditions over the past few years.
According to Michael Adjei-Anyetei, Acting Deputy Manager for Engineering at the Ghana Railways Company, workers within the subsector lacked basic materials to do their work, thus stifling the progress of the sector.
But Mr. Ghartey after listening to the concerns of the workers gave the assurance that government shall improve the working conditions of rail workers nationwide under the President Akufo-Addo administration, further pledging to settle their salary arrears.
He however, urged them to put aside their partisan interest and rather partner government to develop the subsector, saying “think about yourselves, think about your country.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Ghartey has pledged to organize a special durbar in honour of rail workers.
The essence of the durbar is to provide the platform for strengthening ties between government and rail workers.