President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday cut the sod for the commencement of work on the construction of the €500 million Manso-Huni Valley section of the Western Railway.
Describing it as the highest single investment for rail development since Ghana gained independence, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the project is expected to be completed within 42 months.
President Akufo-Addo waving at the crowd after sod cutting ceremony
Addressing the gathering at Manso in the Amenfi Central District, the President bemoaned the fact that one of the great tragedies of Ghana’s post-colonial era was allowing her railway infrastructure, developed under colonial rule, to deteriorate completely.
According to him, out of the 947 kilometres (km) of colonial narrow-gauge rail network bequeathed by the colonialists, barely 10 per cent was operational.
Indeed, the only addition to the network has been the 15km narrow gauge railway line, built between 2012 and 2017, from Sekondi to Takoradi via Kojokrom.
President Akufo-Addo noted that, upon his assumption of office in January 2017, he was determined to change this statistic, because of his belief in the fact that an efficient railway system is critical to the progress and prosperity of Ghana, the reason why he re-established the Ministry of Railways Development.
“The ground-breaking event involved in today’s ceremony is an integral part of the series of infrastructural projects lined up to expand the provision of railway services. Key amongst the rail projects, currently on-going, are the development of a new standard gauge railway line between the Port of Tema and Mpakadan in the Asuogyaman District of the Eastern Region. This project has reached an advanced stage of completion, and will soon be handed over to Government for operation,” the President said.
He noted also that the development of the Western Railway Line is on course, with the 22 km section of the line from Kojokrom to Manso proceeding steadily, and scheduled for completion before the end of this year.
“I am delighted that, even before the completion of this section, I am here today to cut the sod for work to commence officially on the continuation of construction works for the development of the line from Manso to Huni Valley, which covers some 70km, ” President Akufo-Addo added.
The Manso to Huni Valley project includes the conversion of dual gauge tracks, between Takoradi and Kojokrom, from narrow gauge to standard gauge. The construction of a new eight km standard gauge rail line within the Takoradi port to the Takoradi station, in order to have a continuous standard gauge connection from the Port to the Nsuta Bauxite Mining Site and other mines, will help facilitate the haulage and export of minerals.
These projects, amongst several others in the pipeline, which will commence soon, he said, “confirm the depth of commitment of my government to establishing a modern railway system in our nation. Government is committed to securing additional resources to complete the expansion of the new standard gauge rail network in the country, in line with the Railway Master Plan.”
The President also addressed a growing phenomenon that €was retarding progress and efforts by the government in the railway sector.
“Apart from the activities of illegal mining, which is having a negative impact on the development of the right-of-way, particularly within the corridors of Manso and Amantin in the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality, leading to the modification of project designs and higher construction costs, some unpatriotic saboteurs in our communities have chosen to steal components of the railway system, including the tracks. This is exceptionally worrying, and of great concern to the rest of us Ghanaians,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo, thus, sounded a strong word of warning to individuals perpetuating these criminal acts that the law will take its course, and the appropriate sanctions and punishment will be duly meted out to offenders.