The management of the Ghana Railway Company (GRC) has identified staff costs as a major problem militating against the growth of the company in recent times. According to management, the company was currently spending 65% of its monthly revenue on staff, thus leaving only 35% at the disposal of management to tackle problems confronting the only Railway Company in the country.
A deputy-managing director of the company in charge of administration, Mr. Rufus Quaye, who disclosed this in an interview with The Chronicle in Takoradi yesterday, said what appeared to have exacerbated the situation was the fact that revenue generated by the company was on the low side and could therefore not support their current predicament.
He revealed that the company earned on average, a gross of ¢8.2 billion a month and noted that 65% of this income was spent on staff only, thus leaving only 35% for them to pay all their bills and other expenses. This low revenue generation, he noted, had put a lot of pressure on management to meet the commitments of the company.
Quaye said sometimes, management found it very difficult paying salaries for the staff, all because of the low revenue generation, which he attributed to the low tariff being paid to them by the Ghana Bauxite Company (GBC) when they hauled their ore from Awaso to the Takoradi sea port. He said they did not get much revenue from the passenger service they were rendering to the people on their western line.
The deputy-managing director further told The Chronicle that management, in its attempt to salvage the situation and save the company from collapse, had devised a strategy to cut down expenses on staff from the current 65% to 40% in the short term. The figure would further be slashed from the 40% to 30% in the long term.
He however said the strategy was not an indication that, they would declare some of the workers redundant.
According to him, they would enter into dialogue with their business partners to see how best they could increase their revenue generation base to support the new policy they were going to introduce.
The deputy MD said also that as part of the strategy, they had resolved to increase the haulage of cocoa from the hinterland to the Takoradi port to boost revenue generation.
Quaye noted that, with the expansion of the revenue base, the 40% they had proposed to spend on staff would be enough to deal with the challenges in the sector.
He noted however that if revenue generation was not improved after the implementation of the new policy they were about to implement, then the only option would be to cut down on the current workforce.
Rufus Quaye also welcomed the government's decision to conduct forensic audit into the financial administration of the company, starting from 1995 to date.
He said there had been public perception that corruption was going on in the company.
In his view, the only option that could be used to erase this perception was for such an audit to be carried out to ascertain the truth about the allegation.
According to him, his administration was not afraid at all about the intended probe because they had done nothing wrong and it was only a perception that wrong doings were going on in the company.
Quaye denied as well a claim by some of the workers that management was frustrating investors from taking over the management of the company on concessionary basis.
He noted that the current administration had been transparent in all its dealings, therefore it would be wrong for any worker to think they were not transparent.
He noted that though management had a representation on the committee working on the offloading of management to concessionaires, they were not as deeply involved as management to warrant such accusation from the workers.
Workers of the company, last Monday, held a meeting at the popular “bottom tree” at the location near Sekondi where they accused management of being behind the plot to derail the government's decision to sell the company to concessionaires.
According to the workers, their management had been leaking information to Ghanaian railway workers in Europe, who had also been threatening would-be inventors from taking over the company.
The workers further alleged during the said meeting that management had not been transparent to them and that they only informed them about the expenditures of the company without letting them know about the revenue coming in- a claim that had been denied by Mr. Quaye.
The current state of the Ghana Railway Company became subject for discussion on most of the radio stations in Takoradi, especially Radio Melody and KYYZ 89.7 FM yesterday.
Callers to these radio stations called on the government to intervene to save the once vibrant company from collapse since it employed substantial number of workers in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis.