26.07.2006 Disaster

$60m Needed To Pay Off Redundant Railway Staff

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The Ghana Railway Corporation (GRC) will require 60 million dollars to pay off its redundant workers.

Josephine Hilda Addo, NPP-Member for Kwadaso and board member of the corporation, disclosed this in Parliament when contributing to a debate on a statement by George Kuntu Blankson (NDC-Mfantseman East) on the corporation.

Ms Addo who said she could not immediately give the number of workers to be affected by the lay off, confirmed earlier claims by other speakers that the workers had not been paid for some time now.

She said if government were to pay any money at all to the corporation, that could only cover workers salaries, adding that the corporation had to borrow money from the banks with high interest before the workers could be paid.

She said the board and management had therefore decided to borrow money to pay off workers who are now redundant.In his statement, Mr Kuntu Blankson appealed to government to take a serious look at financing the rail sector.

He said rail transport as it exists today is confronted with a myriad of challenges as a result of inadequate resources culminating in a situation where it is incapable of providing service to its customers.

Mr Kuntu-Blankson said it is an undeniable fact that rail transport is one of the major means of transportation in a number of countries.He said when it came to haulage of commodities for internal use or for export, railway was looked upon as the most convenient and cheapest means of haulage.

He said as of now the railway corporation is saddled with "huge debt which threatens its very existence.

"Mr Speaker, this issue cannot be swept under the paragraph, something must certainly be done about it."

Mr Kuntu-Blankson said while recent government efforts to get the railways revived was commendable, certain short term measures should be implemented as the long term approaches were also tackled.

He said the problems of the Ghana Railways became compounded, following the withdrawal of government subsidies to it in 1997.

Touching on cocoa haulage, Mr Kuntu-Blankson said he found it extremely difficult to understand why the railways could not be used extensively in the haulage of cocoa as it had comparative advantage over other means of transportation.

A number of proposals in that direction had been presented by the corporation to government for consideration but no response had emerged, he said.

Mr Kuntu -Blankson said despite the deplorable state of infrastructure, the railway still had the capacity to haul at least 100,000 metric tonnes of cocoa as against the average of 12,000 metric tonnes in a given season when hauled by trucks.

Mr Stephen Baladu Manu (NPP-Ahafo Ano South) urged the authorities to treat the issue of delayed salaries with utmost urgency to alleviate the suffering of the workers and their families.

Alhaji Amadu Sorogho (NDC Abokobi Madina) said the railway system should not be allowed to deteriorate to the extent it had reached. He asked government to spend part of the 20 million dollars earmarked for the 50th anniversary celebration to improve upon the system

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