Expansion of rail network to begin April

The Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) and its allied bodies have re-activated a master plan to expand the country’s rail network by 4,000 km.

Estimated at $21 billion, the rehabilitation and modernisation project is expected to begin by the end of April this year and be completed in 33 years.

The construction of new lines will be undertaken in phases to link the entire country and the sub-region.

Some financial consortiums have come on board to finance the various phases of the project and expectations are that the project will open up the various districts and regions to businesses, and ease traffic on the highways.

The Board Chairman of GRDA, Alhaji Ibrahim Adams, told a stakeholders meeting in Kumasi last Tuesday that districts and proposed sites where the railway lines would pass would be demand-driven and influenced by the viability of economic activities.

Team Engineering Company, an Italian consulting firm that worked on the master plan, had packaged the project to ensure that cost recovery would not be a problem.

The company was expected to bring its rich experience in Europe and other parts of Africa, including the Abuja-Kano link, to bear on the Ghana project. Financing

An Exim Bank-India credit facility has been sought to begin the Tema-Port-Akosombo and the Akosombo-Buipe Port lines.

A Brazilian loan has also been secured to construct the 123km Takoradi-Awaso line while a Spanish-Swiss consortium was on stream to finance the Dunkwa-Kumasi line as part of the Western railway line project.

The Western railway line project is expected to be completed within 24 months.

The Deputy Transport Minister, Madam Joyce Bawah Mogtari, expressed concern that only 13.3 per cent of the country’s rail lines were operating.

Most of the lines that needed attention were in the Eastern corridor, which called for an aggressive plan such as the new master plan to connect the entire country.

She said the new blueprint was a workable document which would give the industry a rebirth.

The only stumbling block to the execution of the project was a protracted legal battle between the GRDA and the Asem Stool in Kumasi, but Alhaji Adams said it was being resolved.

A Kumasi High Court is set to begin hearing of the case after the company’s stay of execution filed against the Asem Stool was quashed by the court.

However, reliable sources told the Daily Graphic that because of the importance of the project, some key stakeholders were meeting the two parties to impress on them to settle the matter out of court.

The board chairman said an attractive compensation package had been earmarked for encroachers on the company’s land.

Alhaji Adams said he agreed that it did not make sense to compensate people who had deliberately encroached on the land, but added that the GRDA wanted to put a human face to the whole exercise.

source : Graphic Online