The railway sector in the past 22 months has witnessed significant rehabilitation works since the assumption of office by Nana Akufo-Addo. Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, addressing journalists at the weekly media briefing, in Accra, on Wednesday, said the Government had rehabilitated the 56-kilometre existing narrow gauge line from Kojokrom to Tarkwa, through Nsuta; and was near completion.
He said the completion of the lines would restore the passenger rail services from Tarkwa to Takoradi for the first time since 2007.
He added that the freight service from the Manganese Mine at Nsuta to Takoradi was in operation and the ongoing rehabilitation works had led to a major reduction in the number of derailments and accidents on the corridor.
He explained that as a result of the total deterioration of the Western Line, 700 major and minor incidents were recorded on the stretch in 2017.However, the monthly average of 60 incidents in 2017, had reduced to five per month since January 2018, when rehabilitation commenced.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the construction of new standard gauge railway line from Kojokrom to Manso, with a distance of 22km was also progressing steadily.
Also, he said, the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL), with its own workforce, started rehabilitation works on the 70.8km narrow gauge section of the Eastern railway line from Accra to Nsawam and Accra to Tema.
The rehabilitation of the Achimota to Tema section of the Line, was approximately 90 per cent complete and test runs had commenced. Additionally, work was progressing on the Achimota to Accra Central line as well as the Achimota to Nsawam section.
He gave assurance that work would be completed before the end of the year.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah explained that the 10 existing passenger coaches were undergoing refurbishment, and they would enhance passenger comfort when the sub-urban commuter services re-opened.
The Minister announced that procurement process was ongoing to develop a new standard gauge line for the Eastern Railway Line with a distance of about 340km.
This, he explained, would be from Accra-Tema to Kumasi with a branch line from Busoso to Kyebi, adding that eight consortia had submitted their final bids by October 11 this year.
He gave the assurance that Government would complete negotiations with the most preferred Concessionaire before the end of the year to develop the project on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.
More so, he said, feasibility Studies had been undertaken by the Government on the proposed 596km-Greenfield railway line from Kumasi to Paga, (the Central Spine). The construction of the rail-line would be undertaken in sections; including the Kumasi to Buipe, Buipe to Tamale and the Tamale to Paga one, 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,” Mr Oppong Nkrumah observed.
The Minister said a permanent Joint Committee of Experts from Ghana and Burkina Faso was established in December 2017 to facilitate the development of a rail link between the Tema Port and Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.
This led to the engagement of a Transaction Advisor whose services encompassed undertaking feasibility studies and providing technical advice to both countries in the engagement of a private sector investor to develop the line on BOT basis.
A shortlist of 12 prospective concessionaires had been made following an Expression of Interest process.“It is the expectation that the international procurement process would be completed in 2019 to pave way for the construction of the line to commence in 2019,” he stated.
Feasibility studies commenced this year 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.That vision, he said, would be pursued by the Government in 2019, in order to address the negative impacts of traffic congestion in Accra and Kumasi.
GRCL 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, in 2019, would start to run courses in Railway- related subjects, such as Railways Engineering, Signalling and Telecommunications and Infrastructure Development to build a core of Ghanaians professionals in the railway sector.
Additionally, the Railway Location Workshop is being modernised and equipped to become a one-stop workshop to serve the railway, mining, petroleum and agricultural industries.So far, the Minister said, two out of the seven workshops had been rehabilitated this year.