By Belinda Ayamgha/Samira Larbie, GNA
Accra, June 14, GNA - Mr Joe Ghartey, the Minister for Railway Development, has called on the Ga Traditional Council to assist in getting encroachers off railway lines to allow for construction work to continue, in order to ease the traffic situation in the country.
He said work on the rehabilitation of the Accra-Nsawam line had begun in Accra but was being hampered by the activities of trespassers on railway lands.
The Minister said this in Accra when he, together with a team comprising the Greater Accra Regional Minister and his deputy, the Mayor of Accra and some members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport, paid a courtesy call on the Ga Traditional Council to seek their support in reclaiming encroached railway lands.
He noted that every developed country had a railway system and this project, when it came into effect, would enhance economic activities, ease traffic congestion and reduce pressure on road infrastructure while reducing road carnages.
Mr Ghartey bemoaned the neglect of the railway system in the post-colonial era, which had left Ghana railway system in a deplorable state, describing the situation as one of the biggest tragedies of the post-colonial era.
This neglect, he said, was what had caused the encroachment, but added that the Ministry was keen to address this challenge in order to develop the sector.
He said the Ministry was also in the process of getting investors for work to begin on the 330-kilometer Eastern railway line, which will connect Accra to Kumasi, with a branch line from Achimota to the Tema Port.
The line will have both a narrow gauge which will carry slower suburban coaches that will stop at towns along the line and a standard gauge line, which will carry fast trains with minimal stops.
Mr Ghartey told the Chiefs that the project was for the benefit of all Ghanaians and solicited their assistance as leaders of the people to advise them to evacuate from the rail lines and lands around the lines so that work could proceed smoothly.
He said many people, especially traders, had taken over the lines and areas around it and were selling on the line, hampering construction and putting their own lives at risk.
Others had also built structures on the land around the lines, which was not good, as lands 100 feet on both sides of the lines were supposed to be free, to ensure safety and pleaded with the chiefs to support the Ministry if they heard complaints from the people when they were evacuated and illicit structures demolished.
Nii Dodoo Nsaki, the Acting President of the Council, pledged the Council's support for the project to ensure that the country developed as it should.
He urged the Minister and the engineers to inform the Council if they encountered any further problems during their work.
Nii Ayi Bonte II, Gbese Mantse, speaking at the event expressed appreciation to the government for respecting their role and seeking their support in the execution of the railway plans for the country.
He assured that all sub-chiefs would be informed about the project so they could help ensure that the problem was addressed.