Minister for Railways Development, Joe Ghartey has cautioned hawkers who ply their wares on the section of the rehabilitated Accra-Achimota line to desist from the act or face the rigors of the law. The Minister issued the warning when he met with the leadership of the Kantamanto and the Makola Number 2 markets at the Accra Central Railway station on Friday May 24, 2019.
Hawkers are gradually taking over the rail tracks behind the Accra Brewery Company Limited. This is barely five months after the re-opening of the Accra-Tema line, after the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) carried out massive rehabilitation works on the line.
Addressing the market leaders, Joe Ghartey said no hawker will be allowed to trade on the rail tracks because it never done in any part of the world. He did not mince words when he cautioned that any person found trading on the railway lines will be arrested and made to face the law.
The Sector Minister said change has come and so Ghana’s railway sector is moving from strength to strengthen.
Hon Joe Ghartey said his outfit will not allow any illegal acts that will destroy what the Government of Ghana is purposed to achieve which is to build a modern railway network.
In May 2018, the Ghana Railway Company Limited cleared hundreds of hawkers at the Accra Central Railway Station to pave way for rehabilitation works on the 40 kilometer Accra-Nsawam railway line. All eight gates connecting the railway station to the Kantamanto market and the Makola Number 2 market were closed. This was to ensure human safety and to aid progress of work.
On December 2018 when the Accra-Tema line was completed, the leadership of the Kantamanto market appealed to the Minister for Railways Development, Hon. Joe Ghartey to open one of the gates for people who wants to buy from the market. The Sector Minister granted their request upon the assurance from the leadership of the two markets that there will be no trading activities on the rehabilitated line. But the traders could not keep their word.
Some traders are back doing brisk business on the railway line.
But the traders were quick to place the blame on the door step of the railway workers.They alleged some railway workers at the station were giving out railway lands and allowing some traders hawk on the railway lines.
The aggrieved traders who were ready to name and shame told the Minister that they have on several occasion tried to get the hawkers off the railway lines but that was met with fierce resistance. According to them the hawkers claimed to be relations of the railway workers and give monies to them so they can sell on the railway lines.
In his response, the Minister for Railways Development, Joe Ghartey cautioned the railway workers to desist from collecting monies from the hawkers. He said such indiscipline will not be tolerated and any railway worker found culpable will be dealt with according to the law.
Meanwhile, the Minister has instructed the immediate closure of the gate for two weeks. He called on the leadership of the two markets to immediately form a joint taskforce to clear all hawkers off the Accra Central Railway Station.
The joint taskforce will also include representatives from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), the Ghana Railway Company Limited and the Railway Police Station. The various groups will be responsible for the activities of the joint taskforce. He called on the stakeholders to dialogue on how best to get the joint taskforce operational ad effective.
He urged them to educate the traders on this new move in order not for any of their member caught in the act.
The Minister assured the traders that the joint taskforce will be inaugurated after the two-week ultimatum.
The Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Ashiedu Keteke Sub Metro chairman Mr. Seth Raymond Tetteh said the Assembly is ready to be part of the joint taskforce to ensure that traders comply with the directive.
The District Commander of the Railway Police Station in Accra, DSP Emmanuel Ofori Asante appealed to squatters, hawkers and all persons doing illegal activities along the rail tracks and at the various railway stations to desist from the act because the law will deal with them when they are arrested.
The Accra-Tema railway line is operational while the Achimota-Nsawam line is near completion.
In a related development, 97 suspected criminals have been arrested around the Odaw railway station, close to the Kwame Nkrumah circle in Accra. They included female prostitutes, pickpockets and drug peddlers who converged at the railway station to plan their nefarious activities.
14 out of the 97 suspects were arrested on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, while 2 were nabbed on Friday, May 24, 2019. Several of the suspects have charged and granted bail.
The District Commander of the Railway Police Station, DSP Emmanuel Ofori Asante made this known on Friday in Accra, when the Minister for railways Development, Joe Ghartey visited the Accra Central Railway Station to engage with leaders of the two markets.
According to him, some of the suspects planned their criminal activities from the line and went into execution from 3am to 5am.
He said personnel from the Railway Police Command will continue to swoop in on the criminals