Members of the Ghana Railways Workers Union, have hailed Mr Joe Ghartey, the immediate past Minister of Railways Development, for his outstanding contributions towards revamping the railways industry.
Mr Godwill Ntarmah, General Secretary, Ghana Railways Workers Union, said under Mr Ghartey’s four-year tenure as sector Minister, during the first term of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, serious efforts were made to address the welfare needs of railway workers, which resulted in about a total of 65 per salary increase.
He said Mr Ghartey also topped it up with the Capex facility of which part was used to pay workers’ salaries for over a year.
He said part of the Capex facility also ensured that all debts owned by the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) to other institutions were paid.
“Unfortunately, some of such debts had started pilling up like Credit Union Contributions and we must say the earlier we address such things, the better,” he said.
Mr Ntarmah gave the commendation at a staff durbar of the Ghana Railways Workers Union in Secondi-Takoradi.
The durbar was held in honour of Mr John-Peter Amewu, Minister of Railways Development, who is on a two-day working visit to the Western Region.
Mr Ntarmah said it was interesting to know that even before the GRCL received the needed spares parts and equipment under the Capex facility, the workers through hard work and commitment to sustain the operations of GRCL, had started producing results in the haulage of manganese ore.
The General Secretary said the haulage for the month of May 2021 was over 75,000 tons.
He told the Minister that with the above-mentioned support by his predecessor, he (the Minister) had been placed in a better position to perform and all that he needed to do was to ensure regular investment in GRCL.
“Permit me to state that you have started on a good note by continuing the renovation of workshops and some store houses, This is remarkable however, we can put all these workshops and store houses in a brighter state,” Mr Ntarmah said.
“If as a nation we fail to get back to Awaso to haul bauxite, cocoa alongside manganese, we would have done a great disservice to GRCL.
“The plea of every railway worker is for you to get us back to Awaso and I can assure you that your burden of sustaining the operations of GRCL will be a thing of the past.”
He urged the Minister to ensure that the salary structure of GRCL workers was reviewed to make it attractive to maintain the professionals they currently had in the system so as not to let them leave to look for other opportunities elsewhere.
He said another area of concern to them was the presence of the Railway Act (Act 779), which placed all assets hitherto under the care of GRCL to the Ghana Railways Development Authority (GRDA), declaring that “we wish to state here and now that, the time to review this Act is now”.
“As a Union, we have resolved not to allow GRDA to sell any scraps or collect any vendors in the name of being asset owner again. We will resist any attempt to undertake such exercise even at the peril of our lives and we mean it.”
Mr Ntarmah said another challenge facing them was the issue of theft of railway metals.
“The rate at which the stealing is going on, if care is not taken, one day we will wake up to witness a serious accident if the thieves decided to temper with the main operational lines,” he said.
“We urge you to engage the security agencies to up their game in the monitoring of the rail lines to avoid a disaster.”
He said railway workers who were retrenched in 2006 had still outstanding issues to be cleared and which would bring that chapter in the railway history to a close, saying some were still occupying staff bungalows and living quarters whilst existing staff were in dire need of accommodation.
Mr Amewu told the railway workers that Ghana railway assets were national assets, which they must they must protection.
He said the Government was addressing the issue of railway workers, who were retrenched in 2006.