Rail and allied transport workers have reminded President John Mahama of his promise to address the problems of the sector, including issues that impinge directly on their welfare.
In a statement that emphasised the importance of the rail transport sector to economic growth, the National Executive Council of the Rail and Allied Transport Workers Union (RATWU) asked the President to look into issues of delayed salaries and the “indiscriminate sale” of railway properties to private individuals.
“Another area that needs attention and strong focus if railways are to make an impact in the development of Ghana is the sale of railway properties, including lands. Some individuals are selling them in the name of the Railway Company, and those individuals must be made to account and pay for their actions and inactions, whether in service or retired, to serve as a deterrent,” the statement said.
It said rail transport could propel the economic growth of Ghana if given the needed attention. “It is economically viable and the most environmentally friendly mode of transport among all inland transport in general.”
Citing figures from the US Department of Transport’s investment in rail transport to buttress their point, the Union noted that every US$1 invested in the rail systems (track, locomotives, rolling stock, bridges, etc.) returns US$3 to the American economy — a 200% return on investment.
It said the sector has the ability to create many jobs, noting that collectively rail activity could support over 20,000 jobs.
“One direct freight rail job supports another 4.5 jobs in factories, mining, distribution centres, export and other businesses served by rail. The ripple-effect of job-creation continues throughout the economy,” it said.
They noted also that the sector has the potential to reduce national fuel consumption and greenhouse gases. The sheer volume of goods to be transported at a go by rail reduces the amount of fuel consumed per tonne of goods and services.
The Union however said the potential for railways to make profit or good returns on investment depends on some factors, among which are good managers. The capital-intensive nature of railways means that the only way to make good returns on investment is to run more trains on the same line. Freight trains bring better returns as against passenger trains, it said.
The Union, which asked the President to infuse the contents of the letter into management of the Railway Company and Railway Development Authority, said the modern train environment shows that railways which cover only operating costs do not survive in the long-run since rolling stock, engines and rails will need to be repaired and replaced. It therefore advocated a partnership between the private sector and the state to revamp the