Ghana government embarked on ambitious push to revive the national railway network, which was dead for almost 23 years. Priority projects identified by the government amount to a total of 1394 kilometers of railway lines. Executing these projects the government argues will create jobs and facilitate trade and industrial development. This will in turn stimulate economic growth. In the process, new towns and cities will be developed and older towns would be revitalized. The railway projects will take the burden off the road network and ensure longer life spans of newly constructed roads. The development of the railways sector will completely transform the economy.
The government also submitted that there are unlimited opportunities for the private sector in the development of the railway network, in the provision of related services and in the development of associated infrastructure.
The estimated investment to develop the railway network is put at $7.8 billion under a 2016-2020 plan of action. The railway lines to be completed in the period, 2016 to 2020 are set out below. All the lines will be for both passenger and freight: Accra – Ouagadogou Line;Trans – Ecowas Line;Kumasi Light / Mono Rail;Accra Light / Mono Rail;Ashanti Node Central Line;Tema – Akosombo;Takoradi – Kumasi (Western) Line; Accra – Kumasi (Eastern Line) 300 KM;Kumasi-Paga (Central Spine) Rail 595 KM;Kumasi – Nyinahin Line 58 KM;and Tamale – Yendi Line 102 KM.
According to current government report, Accra – Kumasi (Eastern Line) 300 KM is currently ongoing among other projects.The Eastern Line covers a distance of 300 km from Accra to Kumasi with a branch line from Accra to Tema. Apart from the 20 km Accra-Tema Line and the 40 km Accra-Nsawam Line, which are all used for passenger services, the rest of the line is in a state disrepair and inoperative.
The town of Kibi is between Accra and Kumasi. Here, significant bauxite deposits of approximately 180 million metric tons may be found. Mt. Ejuanema also on the Eastern Line has 5 million metric tons of bauxite. Both deposits are yet to be exploited. The Eastern Line also connects to the Central Spine, which terminates on the border with Burkina Faso at Paga. It has potential for significant passenger as well as freight traffic. A proposed inland rail terminal (Boankra Inland Port) also lies on the Eastern Rail Line.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) are the Transaction Advisors. They have reached the stage where we are requesting them to issue a Request for Proposal to procure investors for the development of the line. The estimated cost of this line is US$1,680,000,000.
2019 Budget Plan
Ghana has high hope for reviving the sector in 2019.Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, is hopeful the railway sector will begin to show signs of recovery after several years of setback. According to him, development of railway infrastructure across the country is nearing completion for the sector to be re-launched.
“We are confident, 2019 will witness the relaunch of the railway system in Ghana after some 50 years of inactivity,” Mr. Ofori Atta said when he presented government’s fiscal plan to Parliament on Thursday. The 2019 budget, he announced, is themed “A stronger economy for jobs and prosperity.”
“Government, in 2018, commenced the rehabilitation of the existing 56 km narrow gauge line from Kojokrom to Tarkwa through Nsuta corridor to restore passenger rail and freight services for the first time since 2007. This will be completed in 2019,” he added.
The Finance Minister further added that work also commenced on rehabilitation works on the 70.8km narrow gauge sections of the Eastern Railway Line from Accra to Nsawam and Accra to Tema. Work on the Achimota to Tema section, he stated, is 90% complete, and work on the Achimota to Accra Central and Achimota to Nsawam lines is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. Rehabilitation will continue to Koforidua in 2019, he added.
With regard to the proposed 596km Greenfield Railway Line from Kumasi to Paga, popularly known as the Central Spine, Mr. Ofori Atta disclosed that the feasibility studies have already been undertaken. He said the Phase 1 from Kumasi to Buipe section will commence in 2019.He also announced the commencement of feasibility studies on some rail links on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis. It includes between the Tema Port and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, Burkina Faso, and development of Metro/Light Rail Transit Systems in Accra and Kumasi such as the recently signed Accra Sky Train project.
It also includes the Trans-ECOWAS line from Aflao through Cape Coast to Elubo and the re-development of the Central Line from Kotoku in the Greater Accra Region to Huni Valley in the Western Region. The Railway Location Workshop at Essikado, he said, is being modernised and equipped and will be completed in 2019 to become a one-stop workshop to serve the railway, mining, petroleum and agricultural industries.
We are resurrecting the railways -President Nana Akufo
“I know that we need to open up our country, build roads, bridges, airports, railways and make it easy for the people and goods to move around. This infrastructure deficit poses the biggest challenge in trying to deal with our development needs. I am glad to be able to report that we have started on a comprehensive programme to tackle this problem.
We are resurrecting the railways. The existing narrow-gauge network, which had almost disappeared, and led to a generation of young Ghanaians hardly knowing about railways, is coming alive. Rehabilitation work on the fifty-six (56) kilometre narrow gauge line from Kojokrom to Tarkwa through Nsuta is nearing completion. This 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 is in operation, and the ongoing rehabilitation has also led to a spectacular reduction in the number of derailments and incidents that occur on the line.
When I went to see the works on the railway lines for myself, I was particularly touched by the enthusiasm of the workers. The Ghana Railway Company Limited, with its own workforce, started rehabilitation works on the seventy point eight (70.8) kilometre narrow gauge section of the Eastern Railway Line from Accra to Nsawam and Accra to Tema.
They did not have or need any foreign experts, so-called, they had the expertise, and those who did not were ready to learn, and they certainly had enough enthusiasm to carry them through.Rehabilitation of the Achimota to Tema section of the Line is approximately ninety percent (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, and I have been assured that this will be completed before the end of the year.
Ten (10) existing passenger coaches have also been refurbished, ready to be pressed into action when commuter services re-open on this line. We are not only rehabilitating the old narrow-gauge line. I am happy to report that the procurement process is far advanced to develop a new standard gauge line for the Eastern Railway Line and others for us to have a network that covers the whole country.
A major difficulty, which could slow down the work of this exciting development, is the nuisance posed by encroachers. I want to take this opportunity to appeal, again, to all citizens to join in and be part of this exciting development, and not place any hindrances in the path of bringing modern railways to our country”, the President said.