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05.12.2003 General News

Ministry Probes Illegal Sale Of Railway Lands

By Graphic
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The Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways, Prof Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, has directed the Accra Area Manager of the Ghana Railway Company, Mr Divine K. Ablerdu, to proceed on leave with immediate effect.

The directive is to pave the way for investigations to be conducted into a number of issues levelled against the management of the Railway Company. Consequently, the Area Traffic Manager is to take over as the new area manager with effect from Monday, December 8, 2003.

Speaking in an interview in Accra, Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi said among the issues to be investigated were the illegal sale of the company’s land and a number of unauthorised construction works currently going on in the area among other issues.

He said as a first step, a committee chaired by Mrs Ama Bampoe, a State Attorney, has been constituted to look into the matter and make the appropriate recommendations on the next line of action to be taken. He said the committee, which has already started work, is expected to present its findings by January.

Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi, described the issue of illegal sale or lease of railway lands as disturbing and said “the management of the company does not have the right to sell or lease any portion of the company’s land to any individual or organisation.”

He said the land was acquired by government for the development of the railway system in the country, adding that “If we don’t have any use for the land any longer, let us revert it to the original owners and not sell it out.”

Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi gave the assurance that any person found to have been engaged in any illegal sale of the company’s lands would be dealt with according to the full rigours of the law.

In a related development, a number of traders selling on the railway line near Katamanto in Accra central have accused the management of the Railways Company for illegally selling the land to individuals who are constantly harassing them.

These individuals, according to the traders, destroy their structures and in some cases threaten to imprison them if they continue to carry out their trading activity in the area.

Speaking in an interview, a spokesperson for the traders, said they deal mostly in second hand clothing and have been trading in the area for a very long time. He said during the early part of this year, the management of the railways informed them that the government is negotiating with a Chinese company to rehabilitate the railway system.

Consequently the traders were ejected from the area. He said about a month ago, the traders realised to their utmost surprise that a number of individuals have begun erecting sheds at the site. He said in a matter of two weeks, a total of 800 wooden sheds have been erected at the site.

The sheds are being sold for ¢2 million each. He said the individuals explained that the management of the railways have sold the land to them and therefore have the right to do whatever they want with the land.

When Graphic visited the site, it observed that a number of traders were busily arranging their wares on the newly constructed sheds while other temporary structures belonging to the traders who could not afford the sheds had been destroyed and placed at the Railways Police Station.

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