(Sekondi-Takoradi: The City of Slanging Seamen, Railway Workers and the promise of Oil & Gas Millionaires)
There is always something about Sekondi-Takoradi that keeps me wanting to go back. Like the old folks say maybe it is because out there somewhere in Sekondi-Takoradi lies what remains of my umbilical cord. During my last visit to Sekondi-Takoradi I couldn’t help but notice the renewed hope in many people about the oil find. Some FM stations now called the twin City, the ‘Oil City’. I have seen Sekondi-Takoradi go through some ups and downs. I have seen the activities at the port dwindle and the trains stop running. Since the Oil and Gas find, I have seen many old buildings being advertised for sale or for hire. I have seen old things being made new. I have seen hotels grow from less than 20-rooms to over 60-rooms. The people of the Twin City are taking their chances with the hope that their investments will yield anticipated incomes. Will the oil find truly bring the needed jobs and opportunities that the people of this twin city need?
The rail and ports have been the heartbeat of Sekondi-Takoradi for many years. Through the years the railways lost their business through deliberate acts and omissions by public and civil servants. We connived to kill the railway industry the day we refused to make improvements for the efficient management of the railway sector as the cheapest means of haulage and public transport.
Visionless, selfish and corrupt leadership may be blamed for the destruction of the railways. It is possible that Government officials and some ordinary citizens decided it was time to run the rail system down in order for them to grow their road transport haulage business. So today we haul everything including manganese ore by road while grass is growing over the railway trucks. My dear brothers and sisters in Takoradi, Oil and Gas may not necessarily bring the needed growth and development. We still have the sea but few or no Seamen; we still have a few rotten rail lines but no coaches. Similarly, we may have the oil but may not derive the needed benefit. We must insist on the revival and expansion of the rail system, especially to the Northern regions. This will invariably rejuvenate the port and also provide the needed infrastructure for the future development of the downstream side of the Oil and Gas industry. I strongly urge the district assemblies (STMA) to seriously consider this matter carefully and make the necessary demands of Central Government. The benefits of the Oil and Gas find must be maximized and the benefits must touch many and not an elite few, who pull the strings and walk in the corridors of power. Watch them closely!