General News of Wednesday, 9 August 2017
The Paramount Chief of Esikado Traditional Area in the Western Region has asked Railway Development Minister, Joe Ghartey to revamp the railway sector or be prepared to resign after two years.
The warnning by Nana Kobina Nketia V is the second he has issued to Mr Ghartey since his appointment to head the newly created Ministry. The Minister also hails from Esikado.
‘I am his elder brother and I know him so well if he is politicizing the railway sector it will come to light [but] I will give him two years in order to assess him after which if I don’t see trains going to and fro, I will tell him, Joe I am extremely disappointed you failed to work,’ he said.
The Omanhene was speaking during a tour of President Nana Akufo-Addo to the defunct Ghana Railway Company facility in Esikado as part of his three-day working visit to the Region.
The President has meanwhile pledged to invest in the sector to make it more vibrant. One of the manifesto promises of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) during the 2016 campaign was to rail the country to open up the major cities to ensure easy movement of goods and human resource.
The railway sector remains undeveloped, more than a century after operations began in 1898 in the Western Regional town of Sekondi.
Out of the 947km track length of railway line the country could boast of, only 130km is operational, providing freight and passenger services.
The Accra to Tema, Accra to Kotoku and Awaso to Dunkwa and Takoradi are the only lines known to be working.
The Sekondi/Takoradi-Kojokrom suburban railway line which was inaugurated in 2016 for use, remains closed ten months later.
The two new passenger coaches procured by former President John Mahama in November 2016 for use on the Sekondi/Takoradi-Kojokrom suburban railway have also been abandoned.
According to Joy News’ Western Regional Correspondent, Francis Whadjah the two luxurious trains have not been used, ten months after they were commissioned by the past National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
Other passenger trains numbering more than 15 at the Sekondi/Takoradi terminal known as Location have also been abandoned, he said.
The project, which is to see railway, services extension from Accra to several parts of the country is reported to require ¢7 billion to make the necessary impact.
That notwithstanding Nana Nketia expects nothing but a total revamp of the sector.
He told the President that they have heard all that he has said about revamping the sector and they will pray that he succeeds, as they need the sector to work so the area is opened up for economic activities.
The President has made a promise to transform the sector by 2020. In a response, the former Attorney General said he is committed to seeing a revamped railway sector.
Mr Ghartey told Joy News he is also working to demolish structures, which are sited close to railway tracks.
Regarding the directive to demolish buildings, which are not 150 metres from the rail tracks, he said, “everything that is being done is for the interest of Ghanaians including those who live by the railway lines.”
According to him, people should live far off from the tracks for their own safety in cases of an accident.
He added that the new trains go more than 100 kph and it is in the interest of the everyone to stay far away from the tracks in case the unexpected happens.