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30.03.2006 General News

Government to transform Railways System

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Accra, March 30, GNA - The Government on Thursday said it would transform the rail system and improve the condition of service of workers of the Ghana Railways Company Limited (GRCL).

A statement by the Ministry of Harbours and Railways to commemorate the International Railway Workers Day, which fell on March 29 said in line with the plans, the Government had intensified the funding of the rail sector through the provision of funds for the procurement of track maintenance equipment and general rehabilitation works.

"This year for instance, Government had allocated 15 billion cedis of the HIPC funds to the Ghana Railway Company Limited for maintenance work on the railway system.

"Similarly, in 2005, Government through the HIPC provided 10 billion cedis to the GRCL to purchase rolling stock and coaches for the Accra-Tema rail line rehabilitation project," it said.

The release noted that the Government recognized the indisputable contribution of the rail sector as a complementary mode of transport and as an agent for socio-economic growth and development.

"However, to transform the rail sector into a competitive and reliable mode of transportation, the GRCL itself must be restructured to enable it to effectively meet the challenges confronting it.

"In this direction a new Ghana Railway Act and a Ghana Railway Development Authority Act are in the process of being enacted to ensure the transformation of the Ghana Railway Company Limited into a viable and self-sufficient corporate entity," the statement said. It said as part of efforts aimed at revitalizing the rail system, the Government had ensured the delisting of the Ghana Railway Company Limited from the Divestiture Implementation Committee to strengthen the Company's capacity to attract long-term loans by using its non-core assets as collaterals.

"Negotiations are still ongoing with various foreign investors to rehabilitate various portions to be operated on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis, while plans are far advanced to expand the rail system to the North to link Burkina Faso.

"The Accra-Tema Shuttle is expected to commence operation by the end of the year after over 37 years of inactivity," the statement said.