Remove Railway Company from Divestiture list - Minister
Accra, Nov. 8, GNA - Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Harbours and Railways, on Tuesday pleaded with the Government to remove the Ghana Railways Company from the divestiture list to enable it to use its facilities to mobilise funds to improve the sector. He said the Railways Sector was deteriorating by the day adding that there was the need to bring it to a state in which investors would be interested to invest their money. Speaking at the Ministry's turn at the Meet the Press Series in Accra, Professor Ameyaw-Akumfi said the Railways Sector remained the biggest challenge to the various sectors under the Ministry and needed help as soon as possible to save it from collapse. He said interventions like regular maintenance of the tracks, sleepers, telecommunication and signals could not be carried out if the Company was listed for divestiture. The Minister noted that the state of the Company's assets was not the same as it was two years ago and they were fast deteriorating. He said no agreement had currently been reached with the potential concessionaires identified by the Divestiture Implementation Committee adding that only United Rail had fulfilled the requirement to post a bond by the date agreed for the start of negotiations. Professor Ameyaw-Akumfi said two major stumbling blocks were preventing the smooth running of negotiations, which he mentioned as further deterioration of some of the lines and rolling stock as well as funds for severance awards for the approximately 3,650 workers. He said from the labour audit conducted last year a minimum of 27 million dollars was required yet budget for the Ministry was only 60 billion cedis.
"This is a source of worry for the United Rail team as there is the need for them to review their investment and action plans," he said. The Minister said the huge deposits of iron ore and manganese in areas around Paga, Yendi, Bole and other parts of the Northern Region was a great source of interest to investors, who were advocating for a link to those areas by the rail line to cart the minerals to the ports.
He said companies in China, Germany and the United States had expressed interest adding that that could be used to seek funds for its expansion to also serve landlocked areas.
He said the Company was developing commuter services from Achimota to Tema and that the work was being carried out from Abelenkpe to Spintex and would soon be finished.
Answering a question as to how close the President's residence was to the rail track; Professor Ameyaw-Akumfi said the house was 87 feet from the track with the Railway line working within a comfortable 50 feet adding that the house posed no problem for construction work. He said there were extensive encroachments on GRCL lands with some squatters as close as five feet from the rail track and this posed a great danger to their lives.
There was the need to relocate the squatters, as they were a hindrance to the work of the Company.