Encroachers have taken over Koforidua railway station and lines passing through the central business area of the town, raising public concerns about the status of railway redevelopment in the Eastern Region.
Several metallic and wooden structures were erected close to the railway lines, stretching through the ministries for commercial activities, including drinking spots and auto-mechanic repair centres and shops and places of abode.
The completion of the Kumasi-Accra railway line in 1923 saw Koforidua become an important road and rail junction and as one of the oldest cocoa-producing centres, the railway lines were the main means of transporting cocoa beans.
Some encroachers, who spoke with the Ghana News Agency on condition of anonymity, said the land belonged to their parents while others said they were only taking advantage of the country’s dormant railway operation and would leave anytime redevelopment began.
Checks by GNA showed that family members of some former workers of railways were still occupying staff bungalows meant for railway workers and were also acting as landlords, giving other people “permits” to build houses with metal containers or for economic activities.
Most railway staff quarters, including one-three bedrooms semi-detached houses with boys quarters located very close to the railway station, though dilapidated are being occupied.
It was also observed that the main building at the railway, the central administration block, was in a deplorable state with parts of the roofing panels protruding out while a part was turned into a church auditorium.
Nana Ato Quaye, a retired railway worker, in an interview with GNA, said it was very disheartening to see the once vibrant railway station turned into a slum with all the facilities deteriorated.
He said since the Ministry of railways had indicated plans to revamp the railway transport system in Koforidua, it was important efforts were made to stop people from invading the property to prevent the demand for payment of compensations.
He called on the municipal assembly to act fast to protect the properties of the state.
Meanwhile, Mr Isaac Apau-Gyasi, New Juaben South Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), told GNA that redevelopment of the Koforidua railway project was on course and that the once vibrant railway station would bounce back to improve economic activities in the area.
He said people who erected structures around the railway property, whether temporal or permanent, had no permit from the Assembly.
He said the people who approached the assembly for permits were denied since it was illegal to put up any structure on railways or any space linked to the railways.
He said officials of the assembly had engaged people trespassing the railway lines to stop putting up structures and even placed caution notices at vantage points but these warnings were overlooked.
He said the Agartha Market close to the railway station, which is being developed by the assembly into a modern trading centre, was part of the plan to provide a modern and decent market to boost economic activities.
The MCE cautioned the public to be wary of people who claimed to own any portion of land or property along the railways, stressing all were government properties.