Mr. Speaker, I will try as much as possible to be brief. Mr. Speaker, I am also moved by this Statement to make some comments on the railway sector.
Mr. Speaker, the railway sector is the ‘sick-man' of the transportation system in Ghana and this sickness is not new; it has been there for a long time. Mr. Speaker, at the moment -- I stand for correction -- the railway sector employs 4,500 workforce but then we have only 1,500 of this workforce who are actually actively working, to the extent that for months workers are not paid their salaries and so many problems arise out of that.
Mr. Speaker, at the moment, taking even the western line, we still have some of our major mining companies, the bauxite industry and the manganese industry transporting their bulk commodities by road instead of by our rail. Mr. Speaker, we have cocoa, timber, cement, as the maker of the Statement, the hon. Minister indicated but these bulk commodities are all being transported by road, and this is having a bad effect on our roads.
Mr. Speaker, aside the accidents that they cause, immediately roads are constructed, including even very new roads, they are in no time rendered useless. A very efficient railway system should be able to deal with most of the problems relating to employment in this country but because, as I have said, our railway system has been sick for a very long time we have not been able to see the benefits of a railway network.
It is therefore gratifying to hear from
the Minister today that at long last at the end of the tunnel some light is seen for an improvement in the railway sector.
Mr. Speaker, it is also gratifying to hear that the Minister is introducing a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) and this is very, very (important taking into consideration the fact that we have the Western line, we have the Eastern line, we have the Central line and now the Ministry is even proposing a Northern line from Ejisu to Paga.
Mr. Speaker, if all these lines could be given out on a BOT arrangement for individual investors to operate I am sure it will go a long way to improve the railway system, enhance our transportation system and improve the lives of people as well as enhance economic activities along all these corridors.
Mr.Speaker, we only encourage the Minister to go ahead with this project. It is very, very important and it is even long overdue. And as he has said, there will be another Statement on the Western line. I do not know why he has singled out the Western line to be brought here for a special occasion but we wish to see the subsequent Statement which will be brought to this House specifically to talk about the Western line, that is the Western corridor, because that is a very important line and we want to hear something positively about it.
Mr. Speaker, with this brief comment I want to commend the Minister for bringing such a very important Statement to the floor of this House.
Mr. G. K. B. Gbediame (NDC -
Nkwanta South): Mr. Speaker, I also rise to make a contribution to the Statement by the Minister. In doing so Mr. Speaker, I also want to draw his attention to this Eastern corridor road that the hon.
Majority Chief Whip mentioned. In fact, the eastern corridor road, that is from Akosombo, Hohoe, Jasikan, through Yendi to Tamale is a road that we have always mentioned as being shorter to Tamale than passing through Kumasi.
And there are a lot of foodstuffs along that line through Bimbilla, Krachi, Nkwanta and all those places. I think that for a long term programme, as they are talking of 35 years, if in the drawing they consider this part of the road, to open that section it will go a long way also to improve transportation in that corridor.
So I want to really appeal to the Minister that, that corridor is worth considering. I think it will open up the whole country if we have the Western line, the Central line through Kumasi and then the one through Ho, Hohoe up to Tamale. This is what I want to draw his attention to and in their scheme of things they must take that into account. It will really open up the place and help the transportation of foodstuffs to Accra and the southern sector of the country.
Mr. S. K. B. Manu (NPP - Ahafo Ano
South): Mr. Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement by the Minister for Harbours and Railways. Mr. Speaker, in doing so I must admit that the Statement being made at this time is timely, in the sense that the railway system in this country has been a thing forgotten about. Until recently, the Eastern lines and the Western lines were very helpful to traders and passengers in the ir normal travels and hauling of luggage.
But it got to a point that one could just not think about the railways system as a means of transport in the country. It got so deteriorated that even workers of Ghana Railways were considered as just being there for being there sake. They were not paid their salaries, as mentioned by the