Gov’t Sources $990 Million For Eastern Rail Project

Government is sourcing $990 million from the Investment and Commercial Bank of China for rehabilitation works on the Eastern Rail lines; Nsawam to Accra and Achimota to Tema. Another $1.95 billion is being sought from the Exim Bank of China for rehabilitation works on the Nsawam to Kumasi rail lines. In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday, Emmanuel Opoku, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA), noted that $500 million dollars would be taken from the $3 billion Chinese loan facility for rehabilitation works on the Western Rail line. He noted that currently all three rail lines including the Western, Central and Eastern were not in good shape due to bad tracks. “Rehabilitation works would include mainly the tracks, bridges, signals and telecommunication systems,” he said. Mr. Opoku said as part of the rehabilitation works, all the gauges (distance between the two sleepers) would be upgraded from 10.67 millimetres to 14.35 millimetres to enable it to link Ghana to other ECOWAS countries. “The use of the standard gauge would enable us increase the speed of our trains from 57 kilometres per hour to about 180 kilometres per hour,” he added. Mr. Opoku said government had instituted plans to extend the railway service to the Northern sector and the Volta Region as well. “Currently, only the southern sector of the country makes use of the rail services due to some socio-economic importance.” He said the Western Line is linked to the Takoradi Port while the Eastern Line is linked to the Tema Port with the Central Line being linked to both Takoradi and Tema Ports. Mr. Opoku said GRDA was established in 2009 to regulate activities on the rail sector, while the Ghana Railway Company Limited was to see to the operation of the train services. “One of our mandates is to work on how we could get the private sector to invest in the nation’s rail sector,” he said. Mr. Opoku said GRDA had put in place measures to ensure that all coaches that would be imported into the country would be able to take only a specific number of passengers to avoid overloading. He said the Authority had taken into consideration issues raised by the disability associations on the need for them to import coaches, which were disability–friendly. Mr. Opoku said rehabilitation works on the rail lines would reduce traffic on the roads and provide safe means of transport for those who use them.“It is environmentally-friendly and would help reduce pollution of the environment,” he added.