Rail transport is a major industry in the developed world and it is experiencing a remarkable comeback after a period of decline. The rediscovered allure of rail transport is underpinned by its capacity to move huge volumes of freight or passengers in an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way.
However, in many African countries, including Ghana, rail transport companies are struggling to transform themselves from subsidy-dependant legacy companies to more efficient commercial undertakings.
Ghana’s rail network is nothing to write home about, or we modestly say it is nonexistent.
By the canons of modern economic models, effective railway systems, if well implemented, could transform the way a country engages in its business activities and quicken the pace of development.
Ghana’s 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 to transport minerals and cocoa from the mainland to the harbour for onward shipment to Europe.
So nothing in terms of transporting people from one place to another was the motive for its construction. But after independence, successive governments have sought to integrate the colonial railway into the overall transportation system.
In 1976, the government sought to separate the railway from the ports and re-engineered the former into the Ghana Railway Corporation. The company, from records, enjoyed the status of a public corporation until March 19, 2001 when it became a limited liability company.
The rail system in the country is almost dead and attempts by successive governments to revive it have mostly been in piecemeal fashion, often due to the lack of sustained funding sources.
It is for this reason that the Daily Graphic commends the government for the bold initiative to revive the railway sector to speed up development.
The dream by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to realise an Accra-Ouagadougou rail line is also a big vision that will take a courageous and action-oriented leader to implement.
This is especially so when what remains of our railway infrastructure that links the major cities is shattered and looted and rail lands massively taken over by encroachers.
Bringing back the rail infrastructure is a tall order, the reason we commend the government for the bold initiative.
We are, particularly, excited because of the enormous economic benefits the country stands to gain from the revival of the rail transport system.
This is because trains do not encounter traffic jams in their transits, which makes them faster and more comfortable than vehicles.
Many of our factories can also rely on the railway network for the transportation of raw materials from their sources and the ports to reduce the cost of producing goods and services to feed the nation.
Road accidents and their attendant deaths and injuries can be drastically reduced if we turn to the rail transport system, which is much safer than all the other means of transport.
The Daily Graphic looks to the revival of the railway system that can lead to the return of the “rail romance” of commuters joining night trains and enjoying their comfort as if they are in their homes.
We encourage the President to mobilise resources locally and from donors to bring back the rail transport.