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17.06.2005 General News

Unfair media criticism stifling efforts to find investor in rail sector

GNA

Accra, June 17, GNA - The Minister of Ports, Harbour and Railways, Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi on Friday said unfair media criticism had stifled efforts to find a strategic investor to take over the rehabilitation of the railway sector. He therefore, advised the media to desist from intruding in the negotiation processes to enable government to secure appropriate concessionaire with the needed expertise to revamp the railway business.

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi expressed the concern when he addressed a durbar of the workers of the Ghana Railway Company in Accra. The durbar provided a platform for the Minister and the workers of the Railway Company to discuss problems confronting the railway sector and how best to solve them. He described media speculations that United Rails, one of the bidders, did not exist or have the financial capability required in resuscitating the railways as mere allegations saying, "this kind of media hype is not helping in any way to clinch a good deal."

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said negotiations were on-going and that more bidders were being assessed to ensure that any investor offered the contract met the pre-requisites of the process and was capable of executing the task. "Government is committed to injecting new life into the country's railway system and that no amount of criticism will halt the effort being made."

The Minister said due diligence had been carried out on some of the bidding companies and that they would ensure that the details were not made available to the public until a deal was secured. He urged the workers to be diligent in the discharge of their work to enhance the revenue base of the company saying, "bad management of ticketing is a serious drain on the company."

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi assured the workers that government would adequately reimburse them in case there was the need to lay off workers. Mr Emmanuel Opoku, Acting Managing Director, Ghana Railway Company, said since 1996, the Company had not enjoyed government subvention and that they had to depend on revenue generated internally, which was woefully inadequate. "Sometime workers salaries were delayed for two months and this has affected productivity," he added.

He also complained about low tariffs being paid by the bauxite company and urged government to intervene to increase it to reflect the current economic realities. The workers on their part called on government to improve upon conditions of service to enhance their living standards.

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