The Ghana Railway Company is awaiting a safety certification from the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) to enable the company to resume operations along the Tema-Accra route.
This follows the completion of refurbishment works on one of the four locomotive coaches, with a passenger capacity of 279, ahead of the commercial operation of the shuttle.
According to the Managing Director of the company, Mr John Essel, the refurbishment of 10 of the coaches for Tema, Achimota and Nsawam became necessary to help keep the company in business following a long period of shutdown.
He told the Minister of Railway Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, who had toured the facility near the Tema Port yesterday to inspect repair works on the coaches, that the refurbishment also required safety certification by the regulator on whether the company was fit to operate the shuttle.
The coaches, being rehabilitated at a cost of GH¢1 million, according to Mr Essel, would have enhanced service when operations commenced.
He told the minister that the refurbished shuttle had 95 seats at its first class, with the others being normal services, and would also have hostesses on board to provide assistance for commuters.
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Presently, Mr Essel pointed out, it would cost the company between $570,000 and $620,000, as well as a minimum of a year, to procure a modern coach and expressed the hope that the operationalisation of the new services would go to improve the productivity of people on the aforementioned routes.
Mr Ghartey, for his part, said following a decision to move away from the development of narrow-gauge railway, which often stood at about 600 millimetres, to the standard-gauge, with a track gauge of 1.44 metres, it became necessary to constantly monitor the developments to ensure they conformed to the required standards.
Tema, the minister said, was pivotal in the development processes, since it served as a connecting point for the Akosombo through the Eastern Corridor and the Burkina Faso lines that were to be developed to consolidate gains in the country’s transportation system.
“The goal is to develop an integrated rail transport system that will go to significantly improve economic gains and further create opportunities for citizens,” he said.
He expressed satisfaction at the work done by the company, saying: “We are not scrapping the old coaches to be used along the narrow gauge lines. Rather, the government wants to support the company to rehabilitate these coaches for better use,” Mr Ghartey stated.
While the railway sector had witnessed constant agitation over the last couple of years over low remunerations, the minister stated that following a clearance of outstanding salaries for 2016 in 2017, the government had ensured that workers were paid consistently.
Similarly, he said, adjustments were made by way of a 30 per cent increase in salaries for the workforce.
“The railway company is a rich company if managers will be able to organise themselves well and take advantage of opportunities the manganese sector presents them to offer haulage services,” he said.