Many Ghanaians have never dreamt of using the railway system in Ghana as an option when it comes to transportation. Our cheap transportation system the ?tro tro?, is mainly owned by private owners, are bridging the gap in our poor transportation system despite the Government?s attempt to flood the transport market with buses introduced by the NPP Government.
Ghana wants to be seen as a developing country and pride itself as a developing country however lack of an integrated transportation infrastructure is holding us back. Unlike other countries like Australia, Germany, South Korea or Czech Republic, which see better railways system as an essential factor to ease congestion on their roads, Ghana on the other hand is failing to grasp this opportunity. Instead what do we see on our roads heavy haulage which interestingly seems O.K to the Minister of Transportation in every Government since 1960?s. The truth of the matter is the lack of an effective railway system in the country is causing most of our road traffic accidents in Ghana. The irony is that Ghanaians continue to endure the headaches of unnecessary road traffic accidents and injuries, long periods in traffic etc.
The Germany and Australia?s railway system have on the other hand have true network with many lines sharing certain stretches.
Australia is a continent of topographical variety and vast distances. For example, the train trip from Sydney in the east to Perth in the west spans 4,352 km, with much the same distance separating Australia?s northern and southern coastlines. Such journeys traverse mountains, deserts, rainforests, plains and snowfields. This demographic pattern established from the outset of European settlement, makes Australia one of the worlds most urbanised yet least populated nations. This situation posed special problems for Australia?s rail pioneers upon whose work the nations rail pioneer upon whose work the nation?s economic development depended. Ghana could have also planned strategically if those put in positions of power had vision re railway advancement and development to give Ghana a similar service.
Today, Australian are benefiting across their nation, which satisfies large-scale demand for passenger and freight traffic in urban areas, and the needs of communities and industries in remote locations.
Australia features an astonishing range of climates: tropical heat and extreme humidity, monsoons and cyclones, arid deserts, sub tropical and temperate zones, and sub-zero mountain ranges. Over the years Australia?s railway engineers have become pre-eminent for their solutions to the challenges of climate diversity. They are renowned for their skill and experience in developing and operating efficient railway systems in tropical and desert areas. This is why it would be worth exploring strategies used.
Australia?s annual turnover is in excess of $8 billion and employs approximately 75, 000 people the Australian Railway Industry is one of the most modern and sophisticated in construction and consultancy services, but also in the innovative engineering solutions to combat a variety of physical, economic and technical challenges. Wouldn?t emulate this approach help Ghana with our unemployment problems?
In the 19th Century, Australia?s economic future depended on the development of an effective and affordable rail network to connect the nation?s emerging primary industries with their domestic and overseas markets. Australia?s topography, climates, distances and scattered communities meant that this challenging goal could only be achieved by innovative engineering.
This tradition of finding a better way remains integral to the success of an engineering environment where the imperative is to achieve cost effective railway solutions over vast distances and extremely arduous operating conditions. Where do we as a nation stand here? How can we become a competitive country in business opportunities?
Design and Manufacturing
What is our University of Science Technology doing to bring out the best in student s in creating innovative ideas and boosting our railway system? This would improve on the areas mentioned in this article? Ghana needs a full range of freight wagons, passenger coaches, double and single-deck electric and diesel multiple units.
This industry is also self-sufficient in the development and supply of a wide variety of components such as cast and fabricated bogies, wheels, and axles. These component range also includes track supplies, brake pads and blocks, pantographs, traction motors, specialised air-conditioning units, centralised traffic control systems. We also desperately need an improved signalling and train control systems have been developed and introduced to increase train capacity. What plans does the current Government have regarding better railway systems throughout the country?
As Australia?s railway industry developed it has specialised expertise and acquired extensive experience in all aspects of the design, development, construction, operation, maintenance and refurbishment of modern rail systems. The industry?s engineers have a proud record of achievement- particularly heavy haul networks in remote locations and hostile environments. The industry?s consultancy skills include feasibility reviews, route surveys, planning, detailed design, project management, estimating, financial analysis of options, infrastructure reviews, passenger reservation systems, and information technology. This is an area Ghana must emulate and stand from the crowd as a country with a vision.
I am citing Australia because of their railway system was developed as a necessity and therefore Australia?s rail networks operational performance is impressive by any standard. Every year, more than 500 million tonnes of fright is hauled and 650 million passenger journeys completed.
Perhaps working in partnership with Australia or Germany on their areas of Special Expertise, for example in Heavy Haulage Railways.
They have established a worldwide reputation for the development of heavy haulage railways. It?s single-line networks carry some of he world?s heaviest and longest freight trains whose diesel-electric locomotives haul in excess of 130 million tonnes of iron ore every year. In Queensland, over 120 million tonnes of coal is hauled annually. This performance is achieved by electric locomotives, which haul 100 tonnes per train and have been substantially designed and built in Australia for Queensland?s exacting tropical conditions.
We have Australian embassy in Ghana however we failed to explore this vital strategically advancement by approaching the Australians. Why are we wasting precious time instead to approaching these two countries mentioned and start something in January so that Ghanaians could also enjoy better railway system to the North of Ghana, West, East and South thus ensuring that better infrastructure is establish to link Ghana?s railway system us to neighbouring countries. Railways development progress is not just for any Government to claim credibility
Ghana could work in partnership with the Australia’s research and development achievements, which include the following collaborative breakthroughs:
? Wheel-rail interface developments, particularly wheel grinding techniques trial led throughout Australia and Hong Kong
? Ultrasonic and stress testing in rails;
? Computer simulations, particularly train path simulations;
? Signalling for automatic train protection and control systems;
? Head hardened rail to lengthen the life of heavily loaded rails. Light Rail Systems
Ghanaians in Australian are enjoying the fully integrated Melbourne?s heavy railway and bus service, which is the largest and most economical network of its type in the developed world.
Australia?s light rail technology, skills and back-up services are available for export. Why is Ghana not tapping into this area to get the information needed to expand our railway system?
What on earth is Ghana waiting for when we presently have oil to trade business with?
What?s is future prospects in Ghana railway system?
The death tolls on our roads year on year is significant enough for our Government to strategize the way forwards regarding our railway system and heavily invest in heavy haulage railways to ease suffering on some of our shoddy roads.
We have no time to stand and stare any more. Serious development is needed to boost Ghana GDP. Therefore the answer lies in effectively addressing our railway system so by the next 5 years Ghana railway system would be a desirable one throughout Africa.
What are the benefits for Ghana?
There would be promotion of trade and commerce in the Northern regions, which would then impact communication system, and efficient transportation of industrial products.
This would also have an impact on the migration of people from the North to South and other city centres.
The railways in the North region would not only alleviating poverty in the North but and boosting GDP. For example products manufactured in the North could easily be shipped out internationally and nationally cost effectively. There would be more job opportunities for the youth.
Some our young ladies from the North regions sadly are caught up in this lack of employment and end up as goods carriers known as ? Kayaka?.
A better railway system through Ghana would address issues regarding the North- South divide. It would also improved self- esteem and self worth for the youths in the North.
The long term gain developmental progress of railway development in the North would help boost Ghana GDP, economy and also progress in Africa.
We must work towards bridging the North- South divide and instil confidence that introduction of a national railway system could do this.