Ghana has secured a Chinese funding arrangement from the China Development Bank (CDB) totalling a US$1 billion credit facility, out of which US$500 million has been earmarked for the Western Railway Line,the Minister of Railway Development, Joe Gharty has disclosed.
The Minister noted however that the cabinet is yet to obtain parliamentary approval on the loan agreement, which is expected to commence in July 2019.
He noted, government has also approved US$230million for the purchase of 30 rolling stock coaches for rail transport in the country, of which some are expected to arrive by September, this year.
As part of ongoing railway reform and expansion in the country ,the Ministry of Railway Development in collaboration with the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) has also kicked off a comprehensive audit exercise on encroachments in the rail sector to identify and refurbish malfunctioning ones.
The Minister of Railway Development Hon. Joe Gharty, at a working visit to Kakasunanka in the Kpone Katamanso Municipal Assembly, to inspect works on the Tema-Accra railway project, indicated that, the focus of government was to build local expertise to help develop and sustain the rail industry in the country.
The sector Minister, cautioned all encroachers on properties of the GRCL to desist from such unscrupulous acts and also vacate from the area.
“While we are doing everything possible to preserve and improve on the rail sector, some people are stealing parts of the coaches and other materials. I want to send a friendly warning to such people that we will come after them wherever they are,” he reiterated.
￼Mr. Ghartey, seized the opportunity to announced that, the Ministry of Railway Development and the Ghana Railways Company Limited, would begin an exercise to clear all traders and other encroachers close to all rail lines to make way for a smooth rail services.
“If we want to have longer lasting roads in this country, the way to go is to focus on the development of a robust rail sector to cart our goods and people to accelerate Ghana’s development,” he indicated.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the GRCL, Mr. Yaw Owusu, on his part intimated that, due diligence would be followed to ensure value for money in the refurbishment of the coaches and the entire rail infrastructure system.
He said, for the construction of the Railway line from Team to Mpakadan to go on, there must be a demolition exercise, and about 40 buildings would be affected.
However, he disclosed that, they would ensure that residential and commercial properties would be about 100 feet away from the track.
He indicated that, the state has to pay compensations for lands, structures and crops during the exercise. And government, he said, had already been paying some Gh¢ 750,000 as compensation to crop owners with farms situated between 24 to 68 kilometers to the railway line.
He explained that, the land area has now been increased from 85 kilometers to 99 kilometers, stretching from Tema to Mpakadan in the Volta Region, with the aim of protecting the Akosombo Hydroelectric dam.
The Acting Managing Director of Ghana Railway Company Limited (GACL), John Essel, in an exclusive interview also threw light on other on-going projects which include the Western Railway Line (Narrow Gauge and Standard Gauge); Eastern Railway Line (Narrow Gauge and Standard Gauge); Kumasi-Paga Line (Central Spine); Tema-Mpakadan (Akosombo) Line; Ghana-Burkina Faso Railway Interconnectivity Project and Accra and Kumasi Metro/Light Rail Transit Systems.
With him on the visit were, representatives from AFCONS Infrastructure Limited, Solomon Tetteh Appiah, MCE for Kpone Katamanso, representatives of the Ministry of Railway and Ghana Railway Company Limited and many others.