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Traders protest against demolition of illegal structures along rail-lines

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Traders along rail-lines at Kantamanto in Accra on Monday demonstrated against the impending demolition of illegal structures for commencement of the construction of new rail-lines.

Wearing red arm bands and chanting, they ran after one of the coaches conveying an inspection team from Kwame Nkrumah Circle to the Kantamanto train station.

The team comprised representatives of China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation (CMEC), the contractors, some Board members of Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA),the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije and journalists.

It toured areas earmarked for demolition for the contractors to inspect the existing lines and determine space needed for their operations.

Last week there was a similar inspection tour to remind encroachers on GRDA lands to evacuate for work to commence.

However, during the second tour, the traders and other encroachers had not vacated and complained that “they had no-where else to go”.

“We are suffering, our children are in school, where do you want us to go? Do you want us to steal or engage in prostitution?” they asked, as they banged on the vehicle conveying the team from the train station.

Some of them said the land had been leased to them by some officials of the Ghana Railway Company (GRC) and had paid GH¢600 for the land.

However, Mr Vanderpuije gave them a week to vacate the premises or would have their properties destroyed during the demolition exercise.

“You should take the warning to evacuate serious, don’t think we are joking. The AMA would come and demolish every illegal structure and we don’t want to hear ‘you were not informed’”, he added.

The Accra mayor said there were available spaces at the Odorna, Osu and Labadi markets and urged them to take advantage of those spaces to relocate.

He pointed out that the contractors were ready to commence work but only waiting for approval from Cabinet and Parliament therefore, the AMA should ensure the land was cleared and ready for construction to begin.

Mr Bai Kui, General Manager of CMEC said management had already finalised structural agreements with the Government and were waiting for the financial agreement to be approved to begin work, adding: “We have the capacity and experience to undertake the project”.

The project, estimated at 900 million dollars,which would take about two years to complete would begin from Tema through Accra to Nsawam while another company would continue from Nsawam to Kumasi and another from Kumasi to Takoradi.

Mr Bai said management would collaborate with the people in the locality to ensure their work commensurate with their expectations.

Mr Dan Markin, Board Chairman of GRDA, said the contractors would be given up to September 2012 to complete the project instead of two years.

However, he said GRDA would not compromise on standards and safety, adding, “We will push them to work day and night to finish on schedule”.

Mr Markin said the project would create employment opportunities for Ghanaians through its 40 per cent local content and urged Ghanaian artisans to prepare for it.

“Masons, carpenters, labourers should sharpen their tools to be employed”, he added.

Source: GNA

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