.At Accra Railway office
BY FRANCISCA EMEFA ENCHILL
SOME OFFICIALS at the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) have been caught extorting monies from customers who patronise the railway market in Accra.
Any Tom Dick and Harry who visits the market is charged a gate fee before being allowed entry to make purchases in the market.
The GRCL has printed tickets which are issued to individuals who visit the market. The gate fee is 30 pesewas, though the original price on the ticket is 50 pesewas.
On average, about 2,000 people visit the market daily. The inference is that the company rakes in about GH¢ 600.00 a day and GH¢ 18,000.00 a month.
Aside the fee charged at the gate which leads to the railway market, passers-by who walk through the main gate of GRCL are equally charged the same fare for walking through the compound of the GRCL.
When contacted by Kasapa FM, the Area Manager of GRCL, Mr Abraham Kingsley Woode, confirmed the collection of the gate fee, but gave a reason which was different from what another staff member gave to the reporter.
According to him, the money collected is used for operations of the company as GRCL is not supported by the government.
He disclosed that aside the gate leading to the railway market, passers-by who walk through the main gate of GRCL are equally charged the same fare.
“They are not supposed to pass here because this place is an office but they said they want to pass here so then we said pay 30 pesewas to pass through. We work from dawn to 10a.m. only and we chose that time because that is the peak period.”
He defended the charge by saying that the entrances of the various markets at Kantamanto and the Railway Market are far distances apart, hence traders call on them to open the GRCL gates for customers to have easy access to the markets to buy their wares.
“We have to lock our gates but when we lock them, those selling in the market come to tell us that people want to come and patronise their wares but can’t access the place because the GRCL gates are locked. Just imagine that there is a market here and I’ve locked the gate and the person has to go round and round and come to where the market is.
“So we opened the gate and said fine, before you will pass through, then pay this 30 pesewas, we even work from around 4 am up to 10 am, it’s not for the entire day.”
According to him, “in a way, it is also a way to prevent people from using the gates. We use the money for some of our operational items, 30 pesewas is not much.”
He disclosed that the traders themselves are charged annual fees for the spaces they occupy, which vary from person to person depending on the size of the space.
According to a staff member of GRCL who was at the gate and issued tickets, the gate fee was meant to finance the cleaning and collection of rubbish at the market. This contradicted what the Area Manager said.
He said the company decided to charge the gate fee when it realised that the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) ignore the heap of refuse left at the market at the end of each day.
He said AMA officials take money from them when they go to dispose of the garbage, hence the decision to charge the gate fee.
In an interview, a customer, Vida Safo, turned away in anger and retorted: “ it used to be 10 pesewas and they now say it’s been increased to 30 pesewas. My sister and I tried entering the market at a gate fee of 20 pesewas each but the gateman rejected it so we won’t enter the market. We will go elsewhere.”
Stop the gate fee
Meanwhile, traders at the Railway Market are calling on the government to halt the collection of gate fee by GRCL from customers entering the market as it is affecting their business negatively.
They said if the trend continues, customers may be compelled to patronise other competing markets.