Rail transport, no doubt, is the most convenient, secure and safest means for moving people and goods in many developed and developing countries throughout the world.
In countries such as India and China, rail transport has been of great benefit, considering their large populations.
India’s population of diverse culture is united through its railway system that forges its cultural, social and economic patterns of life from north to south and east to west.
In China, it is estimated that the railway system is its main means of transport, with over 10 billion railway trips each year.
In Ghana, the railway system began in 1898 under the Gold Coast Civil Service, with its headquarters in Sekondi.
It was later transferred to Takoradi after the construction of the Takoradi Harbour, mainly to transport minerals and cocoa from the mainland to the harbour for onward shipment to Europe.
The railway system is a cheaper means of transport, compared with others, and it is the safest too, as chances of accidents and breakdowns are minimal, compared with other means of transport.
Currently, Ghana’s system is mostly a single track, except the about 30km double track from Takoradi to Manso on the Western line.
Over time, rail transport has become nothing but a scary venture and can best be described as a death trap. Regular maintenance is virtually non-existent, with massive encroachment of the rail lines, even at the railway stations. Accra and Kumasi stations have paled into irrelevance.
Admittedly, railways do not encounter traffic jams in their transit. They are also faster and offer comfort, compared with travelling in buses or cars.
But the news that yesterday about 100 passengers on board a train heading to Accra from Tema were thrown into a state of shock when the train derailed from its tracks at the Alajo train station is not only worrying but also a summary of the state of our railway system.
The Daily Graphic thinks that the time has come for us to prioritise our needs if we have to move forward.
We all know the benefits of rail transport. Elsewhere, it is the main means of transport for workers to and from work and this has proved to be very effective.
Why can’t we invest a little more into the rail sector, so that we too can benefit from the comfort and cheap reliable rail transport?
On this note, the Daily Graphic commends President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for appointing a minister to oversee the rail sector.
We wish to draw the attention of the sector Minister, Mr Joe Ghartey, to the challenges and encourage him to hit the ground running to revive the almost dead sector.
We need not remind him that the sector has a lot of potential for the economic development and advancement of the nation.
In the 60-year history of Ghana, many recall the moments when the railway sector played a key role in transporting people in the triangle of the network and nearby communities.
The various railway stations were not only beehives of economic activities but also provided the means for the movement of people.
Students, for instance, enjoyed the ‘rail romance’ during their trips to school.
It is the wish of the Daily Graphic that Mr Ghartey and his team would try to mobilise funds to revamp the rail sector to enhance efforts at nation building.