The Minister of Railways Development says more than $7 billion would be committed to the rail sector over the next four years.
Mr Joe Ghartey, who urged all railways workers to be committed to the new wind of change currently blowing in the sector in order to restore the company to its former glory, said investors from around the world had expressed interest in partnering the government to uplift the railways sector and make it a commercially viable entity that would generate enough revenue to pay its workers.
Mr Ghartey said this at a durbar with the staff of the Ghana Railway Company Limited at Ketan a suburb of Sekondi in the Western Region. He also encouraged them to put the past behind them and have a change of attitude towards work to help realise the New Patriotic Party’s vision for the rail sector.
He said very soon an Israeli team of experts would come to site for feasibility studies as a first step in the transformation process and urged them to imbibe some of the good qualities that would be exemplified by the team for the growth and rapid economic revival of the company.
Mr Ghartey said more than $7 billion would be committed to the rail sector over the next four years.
He said it was befitting for the workers to put their shoulders to the wheel to fast track the revival of the sector.
He said government was not ready to witch hunt any worker especially people who had sold railways properties to individuals.
“Let’s do the right and revert any properties belonging to the company,” he said.
Mr Ghartey who is an indigene of the Essikado where most railway workers reside and a member of parliament for the area, recounted fun memories of the then Railway Corporation and its contribution to his personal development.
“My grandfather, uncle and some brothers and even friends all worked here in those days and it was a pride to marry a railway worker,” he said.
The Minister described the current situation of Railway workers and the state of the company as a national tragedy that needed immediate attention.
Mr Ghartey said: “Ghana in 1923 was described as the richest colony in West Africa because the railways were active and transportation of cocoa from the hinterland to Takoradi Harbour was done with ease, in fact, one of the greatest post-colonial tragedy to ever befall us is the abandonment of the railway sector.”
The Minister said it was possible to expand the rail network across the country.
“We need to improve upon the 945 kilometres left us by the colonial masters and with modern technology, it is possible.”
Mr Ghartey pointed out that the railway sector continue to be one of the safest, comfortable, cheap and reliable transport service provider connecting towns and villages and ensuring positive businesses for economic growth.
Mr Godwin Ntamah, General Secretary of the Workers Union commended the Minister for his personal role in the allocation of 518 million cedis for the sector and efforts he has made in getting their April salaries paid on time.
He said the “seemingly abandonment of the Railways Staff” by successive governments had cost both workers and the company a great deal in terms of resources to work with.
Mr Ntamah mentioned issues of spare parts, tools and implements as the unique challenge facing the smooth operations of the sector.
He said revamping of the Railways from Sekondi to Paga was a laudable idea adding: “We only pray it does not follow the usual promise and fail attitude of past governments… Our continuous support for government will depend on this.”
He urged his colleagues to work hard to justify any salary increment by the government, eschew laziness and negative practices but rather exhibit team spirit and love for the country as the Executive strived to resuscitate the company.