Work on the 99-kilometre Tema-Mpakadan railway line will be completed in June 2020, the Minister of Railway Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, has said.
The project, which starts from Tema through Afienya and parts of the Volta Region (North Tongu) and terminates at Mpakadan, a few kilometres away from Akosombo, will cost the country about $230 million.
Meanwhile, between 30 and 40 structures, including residential buildings along the stretch, will be demolished to pave the way for the construction of the rail line.
Speaking to the media during a monitoring visit to some of the construction sites last Wednesday, Mr Ghartey said the government was working hard to ensure that the project was completed on time.
He said although the original contract for the rail line was to end at Akosombo in the Eastern Region, the contract had been extended to parts of the Volta Region, adding that even though the original route of the project had been changed, that would not affect the date of completion.
Mr Ghartey also said the 2016 contract did not include the provision of rolling stocks and pointed out that without the rolling stocks, the rail lines could not be tested after completion.
"Unfortunately, the contract that was signed in November 2016 did not include the provision of rolling stocks. When you complete a railway line and you can’t test the line, then it leaves much to be desired," he said.
He said the ministry would, therefore, spend $230 million to purchase rolling stocks.
The Minister explained that the rolling stocks the ministry was going to purchase were not meant for only the Tema-Mpakadan rail line but also the rail project in the entire country.
He further explained that the rolling stocks component of the contract was included in the contract in 2017 to perfect the project, adding: "That is why we made the changes that we made and so on."
Mr Ghartey contended that in view of the volume of work done on the project, the country was slightly behind time with respect to the purchase of the rolling stocks and explained that it took about 12 to 18 months to get the rolling stocks.
He said the ministry had already sent a team to China to work on the rolling stocks and that another set of people would be sent to China again concerning the standard gauge rolling stocks.
He said the completion of work on the Tema-Mpakadan rail line would be significant for the country, as it would mark the beginning of the Accra-Ouagadougou rail line.
The Deputy Chief Executive of the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA), Mr Yaw Owusu, said many people had encroached on parts of the Tema railway line and warned that the GRDA would not hesitate to demolish the structures that had been illegally sited.
He said the ministry had so far paid compensation for crops along the new stretch and was in the process of evaluating landed property, as well as the land for the railway itself, for the second and third phases of the compensation process.
"We have three phases — the crop compensation, land compensation and structures compensation," he explained, pointing out that the Lands Commission would complete the land and structures evaluation by June 2019.
He said crop compensation between Kilometre 24 and 68 of the stretch would cost the country GH¢750,000, of which the ministry had paid 50 per cent.
The General Manager of Afcons Infrastructure Limited, the contractor working on the project, Mr Udai Veer Singh, expressed optimism that the project would be completed on schedule.
He, however, pointed out that delays in the demolition of structures in the project area could affect the completion date of the project.