Work In Railway Sector Records Significant Progress - Oppong Nkrumah

The Information Minister, Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah in his bi-weekly media briefing has revealed that the Railway sector has seen some major rehabilitation works in less than 2 years of the Akufo-Addo led administration.

Hinting on the Western Line, Hon. Oppong Nkrumah said the rehabilitation of the existing 56km narrow gauge line from Kojokrom to Tarkwa through Nsuta is nearing completion as it will lead to the restoration of passenger rail services from Tarkwa to Takoradi for the first time since 2007.

The freight service from the manganese mine, at Nsuta to Takoradi, he mentioned, is in operation and as well, the ongoing rehabilitation has also led to the spectacular reduction of the number of derailments and incidents that occur on the line.

He added that due to the total deterioration of the Western Line, a total of 700 major and minor incidents were recorded including derailments in 2017.

Pinpointing the success of the rehabilitation, the Information Minister told the press that the average incidents, including derailments has reduced drastically to 5 incidents per month since rehabilitation started in 2018 as compared to 2017 when it used be averagely 60 incidents per month.

“The average incidents, including derailments, since January 2018 when rehabilitation commenced in earnest, are five (5) incidents per month; down from an average of 60 incidents per month in 2017. The aim is to reduce the incidents to the barest minimum and make it an exception rather than the rule,” he revealed.

Enumerating the construction of new standard gauge line, the former radio broadcaster indicated that a distance of 22km new standard gauge railway line from Kojokrom to Manso is also progressing steadily with funds from the Government of Ghana.

Turning attention to the Eastern Line, Minister of Information said the Ghana Railway Corporation with its own workforce has commenced rehabilitation works on the 70.8km narrow gauge section of the Eastern Railway Line from Accra to Nsawam and Accra to Tema.

He specifically mentioned that the Rehabilitation of the Achimota to Tema section of the Line is approximately 90% complete and test runs have commenced.

“Work is ongoing on the Achimota to Accra Central section of the line and the Achimota to Nsawam section of the line and this will be completed before the end of 2018. Ten (10) existing passenger coaches have undergone refurbishment. This will enhance passenger comfort when the sub-urban commuter services re-open on this line,” he mentioned.

He again said there is an ongoing procurement process to develop a new standard gauge line for the Eastern Railway Line with a distance of about 340km, starting from Accra-Tema to Kumasi with a branch line from Busoso to Kyebi.

“Eight (8) consortia submitted their final bids on October 11th 2018. Government will complete negotiations with the most preferred Concessionaire before the end of this year to develop the project on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis,” he hinted.

Touching on the Central Spine, Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah stated feasibility studies have been undertaken by Government on the proposed 596km Greenfield railway line from Kumasi to Paga, (the Central Spine).

He reiterated that, “regarding the Central Spine, the construction of the rail line will be undertaken in sections; the Kumasi to Buipe section, the Buipe to Tamale section and the Tamale to Paga with a branch line from Tamale to Yendi”.

“This is significant because this will be the first time since 1898 when the British introduced the railways into the then Gold Coast that the railways with go beyond Kumasi. The President promised that we will get to Paga and his vision is on course,” he averred.

Still on the progress of the railway sector, the Information Minister hinted a Permanent Joint Committee of Experts from both Ghana and Burkina Faso has been established in December 2017 to facilitate the development of a rail link called Ghana-Burkina Faso Railway Interconnectivity Project between the Tema Port and Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina.

Thus, he said the activities of the Committee led to the engagement of a Transaction Advisor whose services encompasses undertaking feasibility studies and providing technical advice to both countries in the engagement of a private sector investor(s) to develop the line on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.

“A shortlist of twelve (12) prospective Concessionaires has been made following an Expression of Interest process. It is the expectation that the international procurement process will be completed in 2019 to pave way for the construction of the line to commence in 2019”, he disclosed.

Hon. Oppong Nkrumah also mentioned that feasibility studies have commenced in 2018 with the objective to identify and map-out the right-of-way for the development of Metro / Light Rail Transit Systems in Accra and Kumasi; hence, the vision will be pursued in 2019 to address the negative impacts of congestion in Accra and Kumasi.

Meanwhile, Ghana Railway Company Limited has also signed MOU with the George Grant University for Mines and Technology, at Tarkwa, to transform the Training School into an accredited tertiary institution.

“Under this MOU, the school will, in 2019, commence to run courses in railways related subjects such as railways engineering, signalling and telecommunication and infrastructural development to build a core of Ghanaians professionals in the railway sector”, he stated.

“The Railway Location Workshop is also being modernized and equipped to become a one stop workshop to serve the railway, mining, petroleum and agricultural industries in Ghana. Two out of the seven workshops have been rehabilitated this year”, he pointed out.