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11.11.2008 Business & Finance

Ghana Railways under siege…as scrap dealers scramble for rail lines

By Stephen Odoi-Larbi - Ghanaian Chronicle

The woes of the ailing Ghana Railways Company (GRC) is increasingly evident as some scrap dealers have now turned the sector into a lucrative business avenue for their personal gains.

The scrap dealers in their quest to amass wealth at the expense of the tax payer have resorted to derailing the rail lines, which is later sold as scrap for players in the steel industry for huge sums of money.

This dubious act by these unpatriotic dealers is costing the country and GRC millions of GH¢.

However, luck evaded a group of eighteen (18) economic saboteurs who embarked on an exercise to derail the rail lines at Akyem Sekyere in the Atiwa District Assembly in the Eastern Region, as their mission was foiled by a hunter who was returning from a hunting expedition, at dawn last Wednesday.

The hunter (name withheld), who is a member of the Town's Watchdog committee, having realized the damage these people were inflicting on the economy, immediately reported the nefarious activity to the Anyinam District Police and the Watchdog committee, which mounted barriers at some vantage positions in the town and laid ambush until about 4:00 am when a Benz truck with registration number AS 3486 D, used in the operation by the scrap dealers was apprehended on its way out with the booty.

Narrating the incident to the paper at the Anyinam Police Station, Detective Chief Inspector Martin Amofa said his outfit was informed about the said robbery on November 5th 2008, by the Sekyere Watchdog Committee. He said with the able assistance of his men and the co-operation of the Watchdog committee, six (6) of the scrap dealers were arrested. The truck driver is, however, in critical condition at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) after sustaining a gun shot by one of the robbers, when they were caught in an exchange of fire with the police.

The others include Samuel Amoaning (20), George Siaw (24), Samuel Tetteh (25), Kwabena Amoako (35), Atsu Delasi (25) and Michael Yaw Asiako (driver). Four of the robbers hail from Kade in the Eastern Region, a region gradually gaining grounds with such despicable activities. The five are now in police custody pending further investigations with the other twelve still on the run.

Damage and theft of the rail lines is at an estimated cost of GH¢3,070. This is the second time that such an incident has happened in the community. About three months ago, two young men were arrested and prosecuted before the Koforidua High Court, where they were each fined GH¢2,500 each or in default sentenced to two years imprisonment.

The driver's mate, Kwabena Amoako, who pleaded his innocence together with the driver, in an interview with the paper said they were hired by one Kwasi Krobo to cart some perishable goods in the area. According to him, it was upon reaching their destination that they realized the situation they had been involved in, and it was in their attempt to report to the police that the driver was shot.

The Media Relations officer at the Ministry of Harbours and Railways, Anthony Kwesi Coomson said the Ministry was aware of the activities of some unpatriotic elements in the society who have taken advantage of the inactive rail system to indulge in such dubious acts. He said the laws of the land would not spare anyone found engaging in such acts.