SOME RESIDENTIAL and commercial property along the Accra-Nsawam railway line are likely to be demolished to pave way for the reconstruction of the rail track.
The demolition exercise is likely to begin from the Accra Railway Station at Katamanto and Agbogbloshie, where some residential and commercial storey buildings have been earmarked for demolition.
A Presbyterian Church, Bethel Congregation at Agbogbloshie in Accra risks being demolished as it is seen to be too close to the rail track and thus poses danger to human lives.
This came to light when the Minister of Railway Development, Joe Ghartey, toured the Accra-Nsawam line, starting from the Accra Railway Station in the company of the Mayor of Accra, Nii Adjei Sowah, Deputy Greater Accra Minister, Elizabeth Sackey, and members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport on Wednesday, June 13.
Mr. Ghartey and the team had earlier called on the Ga Traditional Council to seek support for the railway sector in the region, especially in dealing with encroachers along the various tracks. The minister told the chiefs about President Akufo-Addo’s resolve to bring major development to the country’s rail sector.
“Human activities along the tracks have posed serious challenges to the Accra-Nsawam line,” Mr. Ghartey said, as he toured the railway lines which have virtually been besieged by humans.
“Our greatest problem is human activities at certain places and we have to deal with it,” the minister told journalists on the sidelines of the tour at the Accra Railway Station.
There is an ongoing reconstruction work on the Nsawam railway line and Mr. Ghartey demanded an end to all forms of unauthorized human activities along the lines.
During the tour, residents were seen selling and burying rubbish on the tracks from the Accra Railway Station to Alajo. Some were seen washing clothes and cooking along the tracks in the midst of insanitary conditions.
“The people must stop being on the line. Block all of them off; this is not a popularity contest,” the minister instructed the Ghana Railways Company Limited, which is undertaking the reconstruction of the Accra-Nsawam track.
Fence-walls are being constructed to separate humans and the railway line and Mr. Ghartey, who is poised to realize President Akufo-Addo’s vision of transforming the country’s railway sector, urged the contractors that “we have to tell the people to leave the train lines.”
Deputy Managing Director of Ghana Railways Company Limited, the company contracted by the Ghana Railways Development Authority to reconstruct the Accra-Nsawam railway line, said there have been lots of human activities at the Accra railway line, causing destruction to the top soil in the area.
As a result, the soil is being stabilized to help increase the current capacity of the track to prevent derailment like what has been experienced at the Achimota-Tesano station, according to Michael Adjei-Anyetei.
He added, “The Accra-Nsawam railway line was being fully reconstructed at a cost of GH¢ 15 million and that it is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. There were over 300 railways workers undertaking the project, with some engaged in track formation and track laying”.
Mr. Adjei-Anyetei also indicated that the police were leading the charge in decongesting the areas but lamented that it has been extremely difficult to get the encroachers stay off the tracks completely.
He said there had been instances where residents and traders returned to put up new structures after decongestion.
But Mr. Ghartey warned that such lawlessness should not be allowed to continue.
A member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport, Samuel Ayeh-Paye, said there was the need for government to consider relocating residents of Katamanso and Agbogbloshie in the near future to allow for the development of a modern railway hub in Accra.
He said government should consider building new market centres for the traders so they could leave the tracks for trains.
The MP called for a bipartisan approach in terms of dealing with the encroachment on the tracks.
BY Melvin Tarlue