A high-level conference on the Eastern Railway Line and Boankra Inland Port projects will be held on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at the Alisa Hotel in Accra.
The event, organised by the ministries of Finance, Transport , and Railway Development, is to introduce the projects to the investing public and give them the opportunity to provide their input and assess the interest of the private sector in partnering with the government to successfully complete the projects.
It will seek to determine the market interest and preferences for specific private sector participation models for the proposed projects and to understand the key considerations of the private sector regarding their potential involvement in the projects.
Three hundred participants, made up of investors, project developers, financial institutions, shipping lines, freight forwarders, as well as policy makers, are expected to converge on Accra for the conference known as Market Sounding event.
The Boankra Inland Port, strategically located near Kumasi, was initiated in 1990 by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) in order to create an inland extension to the Tema Port.
Currently, the Boankra Inland Port has been partially developed with an administration block, access roads and utility connections.
Other plans for further development of the Inland Port include an Inland Container Depot (“ICD”), port administration, shippers and freight forwarders offices, warehouses and commercial buildings. The Inland Port will also require the development of customs coordination protocols, customs clearance procedures and controls.
The Eastern Railway Line on the other hand links Accra to Kumasi with a branch line from Achimota to Tema Port.
The total track length is 330 km, and the gauge is 1,067 mm. The existing Eastern Railway Line was built in 1923, using narrow gauge standards and was designed for an axle load limit of 13 tonnes.
The Eastern Railway Line currently is virtually non-operational and the rail tracks are in a deplorable state.
The tracks are worn out, the wooden sleepers are rotten and the track ballast cushions are thin. Beyond Nsawam, most of the tracks have either been removed or stolen.
“The government envisages constructing the two projects through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement,’’ Mr Joe Ghartey, the Minister of Railway Development, told the Daily Graphic.
In a related development, Railway International of the United States of America (USA) has proposed to build the Eastern railway line on a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.
The Chief Executive of the company, Mr Donald B. Kress, said in Accra that he had held discussions with Mr Ghartey and was looking foward to signing the concession agreement for construction work to start soon.
“We have great discussions with the minister and his deputy. They want us to build the rail system and we will do it and do it fast. This is going to be a game-changer for Ghana,” he said.
The Eastern Railway Line stretches for about 325 km from Accra to Kumasi with a branch rail line from Achimota to Tema.
“We project to build a double track railway that will handle passengers and heavy freight. We will bring in contractors from the USA who will lay two km of railway line per day,” he said
The government has promised to revamp the moribund railway system and the sector ministry has since been seeking strategic partners in that respect.
On financing, Mr Kress indicated that there was no problem with that, explaining “we already have a financing system in place.”
The chief executive said the original plan was to build the commuter line between Tema and Accra “ and we will have commuter lines running in six months on double track rail.”
Mr Kress added that the trains that his company proposed to introduce would operate a speed of 158 kph for passenger trains while the freight trains would operate at between 85 - 90 kph.
“We are going to bring to Ghana 21st Century rail technology, ” he added.
He stated that the freight trains could carry 800 containers from the Tema Port per trip.
Another proposal, he explained, was to introduce express refrigerator trains that would cart perishable goods such as tomatoes, adding, “ this will mean putting more money in the pockets of Ghanaians.”
According to Mr Kress, the construction stage would result in the creation of about 17,000 direct and indirect jobs.
He said the government of Ghana was showing great interest in turning the Ghanaian economy round through a modern railway system
“I think the government has a great idea. The economic viability is good,” he said.
Source: KWAME ASARE-BOADU & EMMANUEL EBO HANSON
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