The Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) has started a comprehensive audit of all coaches in the country’s rail sector to identify and refurbish malfunctioning ones.
There are about 40 coaches across the country but some of them have become faulty because of long years of neglect.
In an engineering audit exercise that started a couple of months ago, 15 of the malfunctioning coaches that were identified are being refurbished to support the rail transport system.
Five of the coaches on the Takoradi -Tarkwa rail line have already been refurbished and ready for use while 10 others on the Accra-Tema route are being worked on.
The Minister of Railway Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, made this known when he paid a working visit to Tema to inspect progress of work on the Tema-Accra rail line coaches.
He was accompanied by the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah- Bonsu, and members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Road and Transport.
When the team got to the GRCL workshop in Tema, some artisans from the Suame Magazine in Kumasi were busily working on one of the coaches.
Other local engineers were also examining some broken down coaches for refurbishment while some were engaged in replacing portions of rail lines that had corroded.
Mr Ghartey cautioned persons stealing properties of the GRCL and those who had encroached on the rail lines to desist from such unscrupulous acts and also vacate from the area.
“While we are doing everything possible to preserve and improve on the rail sector, some people are stealing parts of the coaches and other materials. I want to send a friendly warning to such people that we will come after them wherever they are,” he stated.
The minister also accused some rail workers of complicity in what he described as “unfortunate development but I want them to know that the law will catch up with them.”
Mr Ghartey further announced that the Ministry of Railway Development and the GRCL would begin an exercise to clear all traders and other encroachers close to rail lines to pave the way for a smooth take off of rail services, especially along the Tema- Accra tracks.
On artisans, he said the focus of the government was to build local expertise to help develop and sustain the rail industry.
“For now, we are using local artisans to refurbish malfunctioning coaches to serve the people. In the long run, we want to be able to build coaches here in Ghana so that we can have a robust rail sector that will contribute to sustainable development of the country,” he added.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said about 95 per cent of the coaches left behind by the country’s colonial administration were now faulty because of negligence.
“We have lost most of the rail tracks and coaches because of negligence and this is not good for us because that is not the way to develop the country.
‘‘If we want to have longer lasting roads in this country, the way to go is to focus on the development of a robust rail sector to cart our goods and people to accelerate Ghana’s development,” he stated.
The Majority Leader lauded the GRCL and the Ministry of Railway Development for its efforts to revamp the sector and urged other stakeholders to also put their acts together to fast-track the system.
For his part, the Managing Director of the GRCL, Mr John Essel, said due diligence was being followed to ensure value for money in the refurbishment of the coaches and the entire rail infrastructure system.
According to him, the capacity of local artisans were being built to help sustain the sector.