Railway workers’ welcome new ministry
The Railway Workers Union has welcomed the creation of a separate ministry for the sector, although it warned that the objectives would come to naught without adequate investment and proper planning.
Mr. Godwill Ntarmah, General Secretary of the Ghana Railway Workers Union, has noted that the creation of Railway Development Ministry alone will not result in automatic revamping of the sector, saying adequate investment and proper planning are necessary.
Speaking at the National Executive Council meeting of the union in Takoradi, General Secretary, Mr. Godwill Ntarmah, said: “We have every conviction that government will stand up to the test of time and ensure that the right thing is done. We see the creation of the ministry as a good omen for us workers.”
He added that: “We should see the creation of the ministry as a challenge and, therefore, needs our maximum support and cooperation; we are under obligation to give off our best.”
He pointed out that the locomotive available for the haulage of manganese and running of the Accra to Nsawam passenger service is very critical and therefore, there is the need to procure some spare parts to increase the number of locomotives.
Mr. Ntarmah mentioned that salaries of railway workers are very low and unattractive, and has been a de-motivator to workers.
He, thus, pleaded with the minister to ensure that something positive is done to alleviate the suffering of railway workers.
On the appointment of board of directors for both the Ghana Railway Development Authority and the Ghana Railway Company Limited, he appealed to the minister to ensure that committed people are appointed to ensure efficient discharge of their duties.
“We have every conviction that the Ministry will receive the needed resources for the effective delivery of its plans and programmes and we know the railway will surely bounce back on track,” he added
Mr. Joe Ghartey, Minister for Railway Development, stated that the rail sector is going to be transformed to be the backbone of Ghana’s economic transformation.
“It will lead us from a lower income middle income country to a developed country. Government intends to give maximum attention to the railways sector,” he said.
“For some time now, the Ghana Railway Company Limited has been in economic difficulty- a limited liability company that has had to depend on its sole shareholder, the government of Ghana, for capital injection for the payment of salaries and other expenditure, “he pointed out.
He assured the workers, however, that within three years, the company will be able to pay dividends to its shareholder, the Government of Ghana.
According to him, there is the need to look at the relationship between Ghana Railways Company Limited (GRCL) and Ghana Railway Development Authourity (GRDA.
He explained that all the assets of the Ghana Railway Company Limited were transferred to the Authourity under section 32 of the Railway Act.
Section 32 (1) state that on the commencement of this Act, assets belonging to the Ghana Railway Company Limited shall vest in the Authourity.
“We must relook at the ownership of the assets- does the rolling stock used by the Ghana Railway Authourity belong the company or to the Ghana Railway Development Authourity by virtue of section 32 of the Railways Act? All of this brings into question the institutional framework for the railways sector in Ghana,” he added.
He asked: should we have one body which is involved in development of the sector and also in regulation? Should we not strengthen the regulatory and standards framework for regulation of the sector?
We aim to build a strong and robust railways sector, ready and capable of receiving the massive investment that will come into this sector in the next few years; the interest being shown in the rail sector is more than encouraging,” he said.
He noted that rail terminals or inland ports are major sources of revenue; every station can become a hub- the train itself is a moving space for advertisement and additional income and that opportunities abound.
Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Omanhene of Essikado Traditional Area, encouraged workers to work hard to build the industry and the nation as a whole.
“I hope within two years, I will see some improvement in the sector. You need to strategise critically and ensure that Takoradi-Paga lines come to fruition in your era,” he said.
He also urged the minister to ensure that the board of directors is full of competent people, stressing that it should not be based on partisan lines.