In spite of its immense economic potential, the Boankra Inland Port in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality in the Ashanti Region is yet to come anywhere near completion more than 16 years since it was started.
The enthusiasm that the project aroused in the people seems to have simmered down, waning with each passing day.A project, which holds lots of potential for the economic and infrastructural development for the municipality and the region as a whole, has been at a standstill for a while and even what has been put up is deteriorating.
The central administration block, the only infrastructure put up on the 400-acre land, has been left unused and at the mercy of the weather, which is having its toll on the structure.
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The old railway lines that were supposed to be revived to serve as links to the ports have been taken over by shops and other brick and mortar buildings by residents of communities around the facility.
Work on the project has stalled, with some of the existing infrastructure breaking down at a devastating fast rate.
Ceilings are peeling off, and the walls have been ripped moldy as a result of water seeping through them. Portions of the ceilings have been ripped off, leaving gaping holes in the roofs.
As with many state projects under construction, the huge amount of state resources invested into the commencement of the project is going down the drain.
Many of the inhabitants whose parcels of land were appropriated and who were given the assurance that the project, when operational, would boost economic activities in their communities, have waited for over a decade and are still waiting. No action. They have lost their farmlands.
It is hoped that the residents would not be compelled to repossess their land as has happened with state-acquired lands in some parts of the country for such national projects. This is because they have time and again threatened to retake their lands and resume agricultural activities to earn a living if the project will not be continued.
Started in 2001, the Boankra Inland Port was expected to link the ports of Tema and Takoradi to the inner parts of the country and the landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali and also ease congestion at the ports, especially the Tema Port.
The inland port was not only expected to boost economic activities but also create employment, ease transportation congestion and reduce the high cost of transporting goods and services up north by road.
It is a project by the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) in partnership with the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).
The project is expected to create over 1,000 jobs for Ghanaians and also serve as a catalyst for the economic development of Boankra and its surrounding towns.
In January 1996, President Jerry John Rawlings cut the sod for the construction of the project at Fumesua but due to litigation over the land, the project had to be moved to its current location at Boankra and works formally began in 2001 during President John Agyekum Kufuor first term in office.
However, more than a decade after the project began, it is yet to come to completion due to unavailability of funds.
The government has tried on many occasions to get private partners to help complete it but to no avail.
In November 2014, the then minister of Transport, Mrs Dzifa Attivor, told Parliament that by the close of the following year (2015), the project would be completed with the support of the private sector.
“The project, which was put together in collaboration with the Public Investment Division (PID) of the Ministry of Finance, involves the reconstruction of the existing dilapidated and defunct 330km stretch of a narrow gauge rail line to a standard gauge, and the development of a 400-acre plot at Boankra, 27 kilometres from Kumasi, into an inland port,” she said.
The minister said Messrs PWC had been engaged as transaction advisors to advise the government on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) options to execute the project.
“It is expected that by the end of 2015, a private sector investor would be engaged to partner government for the execution of the project,” she said. Two clear years after that assurance, the project is yet to see the needed funding to have it completed.
According to the GSA, when completed, some of its benefits would include a reduction in generalised transport cost of international cargo to importers and exporters from the middle and northern parts of Ghana, including the Sahel sub-region.
The project is expected to increase the exportation of produce such as cola nuts, shea butter, cocoa and cocoa products, as well as wood and wood products.
It also has the potential to promote the establishment of export processing zones in the vicinity of the inland port and enhance the operational efficiency of both the Tema and Takoradi ports through decongestion.
So far, only the administration block of the inland port has been completed. The road leading to the port from the Accra-Kumasi highway is yet to be tarred but has been leveled and is fairly passable.
Provision has however been made for primary infrastructures such as electricity, water and telephone facilities to be extended to the inland port project site, and the construction of a temporary access road connecting the port to the Kumasi-Konongo highway.
According to a document published by the government in January last year seeking PPP partnership in the completion of the project, the project is estimated to cost close to $1.5 billion and has no completion date.
Owing to the economic potential of the project, it is believed that the creation of the Ministry of Railways Development and the realignment of the Ministries of Roads and Transportation would see to some improvement in the project this year.
The railway forms a major component of this project as the port would rely on the railway system to cart the goods to other parts of the country and also help the importers cut down on the cost of transportation.
The railway would also reduce the pressure on the road transport system and prolong its lifespan.