Modern economic models, an effective railway system, if well, implemented would transform the way a country engages in its business activities and would quicken the pace at which development would take place for the betterment of its people.
It is worthy to note that the most efficient, effective and cheapest form of transportation was the railway system.
India’s diverse population is united through its railway system that forges its cultural, social and economic patterns of life from north to south and from east to west. The railway system makes it easier to access different places within the country, therefore, connecting people to one another.
Likewise, in China, it is estimated that the railway system is its main means of transport with over 10 billion railway trips taken each year.
In Ghana, the railway system began in 1898 under the Gold Coast Civil Service, with its headquarters at Sekondi. It was later transferred to Takoradi after the construction of the Takoradi Harbour. The purpose of building the system was to transport minerals and cocoa.
Currently, Ghana’s railway system is mostly of a single track, except for about 30km double track from Takoradi to Manso on the Western lines. A current look at the railways lines around Kwame Nkrumah Circle clearly depicts a plant which has been left to wither and die. The state of these railway lines is deplorable and clearly shows lack of maintenance. It would not surprise me if the last maintenance was carried out more than 20 years ago.
First and foremost, one prime benefit of an effective railway system in the country is a better solution to traffic jams in the nation’s capital, Accra. Railways do not encounter traffic jams in their transits. They are also faster and will provide a quicker alternative for passengers to reach their various destinations in a shorter period.
In addition to this, an effective railway system helps to reduce the high import bills the nation incurs to buy petroleum and its related products for our vehicles. More demand on the railway will tend to ease the pressure on the road system as a means of transport. This will eventually provide excess financial resources due to the less reliance on petroleum to be channeled into other sectors of the economy profitably.
Furthermore, many of our factories can also rely on this railway network for the transportation of raw materials from their sources and from the ports as well. All these could reduce the cost of producing goods and services to feed the nation. Also, farmers can take advantage of this transport system to transport their harvest from their farms to the major trading towns such as Kumasi and Accra, thus reducing cost and minimizing loss of goods.
The railway can be used as an avenue to gain some foreign exchange revenue for the country. For example, railways can convey tourists to sites in the different regions of Ghana. The foreign exchange revenue from using the railway system can be used in infrastructural development efforts and other development programs for Ghana.
When compared to other means of transportation, I believe that the railway system is much safer. In Ghana, the increasing number of lives that are lost on our roads every month could be reduced if we had an effective railway system to transport people from one location to another. Sadly enough, the country we call home focuses more on road transport and instead neglects the railway system. Likewise, our poor maintenance culture continues to cripple the growth of our economy, especially as our infrastructure becomes weaker.
We need a change. A better perspective of the implementation of policies that will benefit the country as a whole. Looking at a way forward, more resources have to be channeled into the transportation industry to develop the railway system in Ghana, so that as a nation we can unlock its potential to help the country receive enormous financial gain.
This will boost trade and revenue reserves for our economy, provide employment since experts and analysts will be required to make sure that this industry reaches its full potential to benefit the economy, and will reduce trade deficits.
We hope for a better future in this country, and a sustained and effective railway system.
Author: Kwesi Otoo, threesixtyGh Writer