The Ghana Railway Workers Union (GRWU) has conceded that the
company is facing serious challenges in the operation of the existing Narrow Gauge Line. The Narrow Gauge Line, according to the union, is in a very bad state, culminating in a series of derailments.
Addressing a news conference in Takoradi, the General Secretary of the GRWU, Godwill Ntarmah, flanked by his executives, told the media that the company is in a serious financial crisis.
“The Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL), a fully state-owned company of the Republic of Ghana, with no shareholders and a staff strength of over one thousand workers, is facing serious challenges operating on the existing Narrow Gauge Rail Line, which is in a very bad state, coupled with the old and aged rolling stock, resulting in a series of derailments every now and then,” he said.
The above challenges, according to him, have resulted in serious financial constraints and making the company “a highly indebted poor company.”
The old gauge line is what the company uses to haul manganese from Nsuta, where the bulk of the company’s revenues come from.
According to the General Secretary, the challenges were so dire to the extent that, “as we speak, salaries go into three (3) or four (4) months’ arrears before some efforts are made to effect some payments.
Again, SSNIT payments are in arrears from October 2022 till date, which has compelled SSINT to take GRCL to court to enforce payments. The company owes GCB Bank millions of Ghana cedis, whilst workers’ Tier 2 payments have also not been settled since May 2022”.
That apart, workers’ own deductions to their various Credit Unions, such as GPHA Credit Union and RUCOMAS have not been paid since September 2021.
Another issue of great concern to the General Secretary, Ntarmah, is the determination of the fate of the GRCL Retrenched staff of 2006, which needs to be addressed by the Government.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, it is the expectation of workers that since the company is a state-owned one, we would have expected government support,which would have been extended to the company as was the practice in the past.
But what we hear now is that, the company is a limited liability company and, therefore, should be able to work and generate enough to fund itself. We disagree with this assertion”.
The General Secretary of the GRWU, Godwill Ntarmah, could not understand why the Ghana Railway qualified as a limited liability company, yet has only government as a shareholder.
“I think to call Railway as a limited liability company is just useless. A limited ability company without shareholders?, he asked.
Flanked by his able executives, the National Chairman, Joseph King Edu Akondo; Deputy Vice Chairman, Seth Newman; 1st National Trustee, Abdul Malik; the General Secretary pointed out that with the aforementioned challenges, it is impossible for the company to generate enough funds to sustain itself and to operate.
The leadership of the Union, he told the media, had made efforts to reach out to the president to brief him on the state of the Ghana Railway, but all efforts have proved futile.
Asked what they would want the president to do, Secretary Ntarmah responded that the Union would want to brief the president about the true state of the railway company and why he needs to save it from collapse.
“We will tell him the company is for the state and he needs to support the company. However, if the president believes the company should collapse, then we will pack our bag and baggage and go home,” he said.
Following the union’s inability to meet and engage with the president, he said “We are frustrated and disillusioned and we believe through your medium the president will hear us and give us the needed audience”.
The Union, however, admitted that the standard gauge rail line construction on the western line from Kojokrom to Hunni-valley is progressing steadily and the company still needs government’s support.