Accra, March 4, GNA - The Ministry of Railways, Ports and Harbours would soon embark on a demolition exercise to rid all railway lands of illegal occupants of to pave the way for the reconstruction of the country's railway network.
All illegal structures that are within 30.7 metres from the rail lines including churches, hotels, kiosks and houses would be affected. Speaking during the presentation of a "Report On The State Of Railway Lines In The Country", Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Sector Minister, said the exercise would only spare structures that would be useful to the railway business.
"In some instances, structures will be confiscated; others demolished and some seized with penalties slapped on the owners and others left standing depending on location and relevance," he said. Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said the exercise was necessary to ensure that the railway business was put into full gear. "This will also ensure the safety of rail users."
He said warning marks and labels would be placed on illegal structures and letters written to occupants to relocate with a two-month ultimatum.
Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi emphasised that the Government would not relocate illegal occupants of Railway Lands but only owners of structures that fitted into the sector's general plan might be compensated.
He said the Ministry would deal ruthlessly with members of staff of Ghana Railways, who had leased railway lands to people in their individual capacities.
He said Railway Lands were Government property and that if they were not in use no person had the right to lease it out. "Those who ventured did so at their own risk since they will not be spared." Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi further stated that in the Railway Authority's scheme of things, they were only mandated to issue licence to individuals to use portions of their properties that could be taken over and demolished anytime it was needed.
He said appropriate sanctions would be applied to both pensioned and current staff that engaged in any act of illegality to serve as a deterrent to others.
The Minister said the steps were being taken to ensure that concessionaires had a peaceful atmosphere to do their work without fear or intimidation.
Mrs Ama Jantuah Banful, Chairperson of the Committee, said the Report was to give the Ministry the needed ammunition to commence its work on the reconstruction of the railway lines.
She noted that the recommendations in the Report varied from one region to the other due to specific and peculiar issues it dealt with. Mrs Banful noted that individuals to whom railway lands were leased without the appropriate check to determine the rightful owners did so at their own risk since they would not be compensated.