Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Railway land deal creates tension

…as two transport unions vie for turf
At the time that the Ghana Railway Corporation was busy fighting to eject both legal and illegal occupants who had occupied lands close to their rail lines, the institution had also been leasing out portions of the same land to other entities to develop.Acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Transport, T.L Selby has confirmed to the Financial Intelligence that a portion of railway lands behind the Neoplan Station at the North Industrial Area has been leased to a transport company to operate its terminal from.This transaction, according to Mr. Selby was done by the previous administration and has been discovered in the files.“We have found this out in the files we inherited from the previous administration and we are yet to establish how the transaction was carried out before any action can be taken on it”, Mr. Selby told this paper. The story which broke late last week had it that the Ghana Railway Corporation (GRCL) had leased a parcel of land about 50 metres form the Neoplan Station to Priceline Transports Ltd who allegedly paid GH¢ 30,000 to the corporation to operate a bus terminal.This angered officials of the Neoplan station who quickly confronted the GRCL and were told that the company needed to lease the land to get money and pay staffs salaries.Chairman of the Welfare Committee of the Neoplan Station John Awuah argued that the law does not allow for the siting of a Lorry Station so close to another one.“The law says lorry stations must be 200 metres away from one another so we do not understand why the Railway Corporation is trying to condone this illegal act”, Mr Awuah stated.According to him, last Monday, May 18, management of Railways together with personnel from the police service came to vandalize the office of the Cargo branch of the Neoplan Station which is situated on the said land.The Chairman told this paper that they were not concerned with how the GRCL manages its lands, but their main concern is the congestion that the siting of the station would create in the vicinity.According to him, Priceline Transports Ltd already has its fleet of vehicles operating from the Neoplan Station without any hindrance and so for them “to propose another station beside us is a stab in the back”.They have therefore called on the Minister for Transport to intervene in the impasse before tempers begin to flare.In 2004, it took the intervention of some Civil Society Organisations to prevent the GRCL from demolishing structures erected by people who claim to have bought the lands from the corporation.The company argued that the ‘squatters ‘were preventing expansion works it wanted to carry out on the rail lines.Earlier on, in the 1990s the argument of needing money to pay workers salaries had been cited by the then management of the Railways Corporation for the sale of those lands to people for development. These developers were later tagged squatters by the corporation and were earmarked for ejection. It is therefore surprising to discover that the same corporation that was moving to ‘reclaim’ its lands was at the same time leasing out lands to other interests.
Source:Financial Intelligence (Justice Lee Adoboe)

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