The Government has approved US$230million for the purchase of 30 rolling stock coaches for rail transport in the country and some are expected to arrive by September, this year.Mr Joe Ghartey, the Minister of Railways Development, made this known when he addressed the media in Accra on Wednesday, to update the public on the status of railway infrastructural development and rehabilitation works ongoing in the country.
He said the Nana Akufo-Addo-led government was determined to construct standard gauge rail network using asphalt as the basis for foundation and capable to run 160 kilometres per hour.
He said between 1956 and 2017, the country’s rail network stood at 947 kilometres, therefore the Government was focused on increasing the rail network and leverage on railway development as a key enabler for socio-economic development.
Therefore, the Government was not competing with any political party in that regard, noting that railway development could not be reduced to political partisanship because it was an infrastructure that could last for over 50 years and positively transform the economy, he explained.
The Minister said the current 100km rail network operating in the country had offered about 3,000 direct jobs to Ghanaians and believed the completion of the 4,000 rail lines as outlined in the Railways Master Plan would create thousands of jobs and stimulate economic growth.
The Minister said the Ministry was developing a Local Content Policy for the railway industry but in the interim, every contract signed for railway infrastructural development, is infused with local content clauses in it to ensure local companies participated fully in the sector.
Giving highlights of some railway rehabilitation works, the Minister mentioned the 56km existing narrow gauge line from Kojokrom to Tarkwa through Nsuta, which would help in the haulage of manganese from Nsuta to Takoradi Port, the five-kilometre Kojokrom-Eshiem line being constructed by Messrs Amandi Holdings, the 35-km Manso-Tarkwa and the 97km Tarkwa-Dunkwa being constructed by China Railway Wuju Corporation.
He also mentioned the rehabilitation works on section of Accra-Tema rail network completed in December 2018 and re-launching of passenger service in January this year as well as the rehabilitation works on the Achimota-Nsawam rail lines.
Also, government has plans of developing the 160km standard gauge Eastern rail lines on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis and that the Ministry had commenced negotiations with the Bidders on April 4, this year, and Concession Agreement was expected to be finalised by the end of May.
The Minister added that government had instituted efforts towards the construction of the 595km Central Spine rail network from Kumasi to Paga, which one-billion-dollar credit facility had been secured from the China Development Bank, which US$500 million would be used for the project.
He said government had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) in April this year, and completed feasibility studies and awaiting commencement of work.
Touching on the Ghana-Burkina Interconnectivity Project, the Minister said a total of 1,200km rail network would connect Tema Port to Ouagadougou and that feasibility studies was ongoing, while four firms had submitted their Request for Qualification documents for consideration.
The shortlisted firms included China Railway Construction Consortium, African Global Development, Frontline Consortium and China Railway Number 10 Consortium.
The Minister said the Government was on course towards delivering modern rail infrastructure and asked for support from Ghanaians and all stakeholders to succeed.