Yesterday as contained elsewhere in this edition, the Accra to Tema commuter train service commenced operations after a long lull.
The occasion was as historic as it was momentous. The excitement was visible on the countenances of the many persons who turned up to embark on the first of the next fortnight of free rides to the port city of Tema and back.
It is a symbolic assurance to the people of Ghana that the Railway Minister and indeed the government, is committed to resuscitating the moribund railway system in the country.
When the venture was first mooted by President Akufo-Addo as one of his manifesto promises, many, of course, disappointed in the previous government’s unfulfilled promises, took the pledge with a pinch of salt.
The President, unlike the many bad politicians not used to walking their talk, has proven to be refreshingly different and the evidences to that effect are visible.
The ongoing works on the country’s railway system, modernizing them and its extension to virgin areas are tangible achievements of the President which would definitely earn him a place in the country’s hall of exceptional fame.
A President who is conscious of fulfilling his election promises and working conscientiously towards achieving these goals, deserves plaudits.
Sometimes we wonder why previous NDC governments did not consider it necessary to put the development of the railway system on an expedited pedestal giving its role in pushing the economy forward. We cannot also fathom how a modern society would ignore the leverages of the railway system by turning its eyes away from its development to the extent that it eventually becomes comatose.
A country with a pronounced extractive industry alongside a vibrant agriculture sector requires a modern railway system to provide a necessary fillip for its economy. Ignoring this optic is an attribute of incompetence, of course.
The economic benefits of a railway passing through a location are enormous as in the enhancement of the local industries and accompanying employment opportunities.
In the days before the railway system went moribund, towns such as Pakro and others along the Kumasi to Accra route were bustling with economic activities, the youth in such places having a lot to do as sources of livelihood.
These towns went under with the ‘death’ of the railway system.
These locations are hardly heard about today. With the railway coming back to life, the good old days will soon return.
Our headline was informed by the Nigerian Railway Corporation’s (NRC) motto of ‘Back On Track’ after a long period of poor performance and neglect by successive governments. Africa’s most populous country under Buhari is also undergoing a massive modernization of its railway system under the Chinese.
The Kaduna to Abuja speed train is functional offering important lessons for us- the efficiency and the strict adherence to timing by the engineers.
When our standard gauge system and speed trains are completed and we join the world fraternity of modern railways, we would doff our hats for the umpteenth time for those who made that possible.