• Yaw Owusu — Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Railway Development Authority
• Yaw Owusu — Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Railway Development Authority

$30b Needed to build nationwide rail network

THE country requires about $30 billion to build about 4,000 kilometres of rail network across the country.

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The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA), Yaw Owusu, said about 75 per cent of the proposed 4,000km of rail network was yet to be constructed.

So far, he said, the current government had invested $2 billion in the sector through various forms of financing programmes.

Mr Owusu was speaking at a stakeholder workshop to discuss details of the 2020 Railway Master Plan in Accra yesterday.

The Railway Master Plan, first delivered in 2013 and upgraded in 2020, has been successfully adopted as the blueprint for the development of the country’s rail network.

“The Master Plan is one tool to guide the country to construct a rail network that will link every city and town by the year 2050 to facilitate the shipment of goods such as cocoa, manganese, bauxite, as well as passengers, to various national and international markets,” he said.

Achievement

Mr Owusu explained that the $2 billion investment in the sector had accounted for the construction of the 97km Tema-Mpakadan railway line which was near completion, the 80km railway line from Takoradi to Huni Valley via Nsuta and Tarkwa, as well as the ongoing six-kilometre double line from Kaase to Adum in Kumasi.

“As we recently celebrated our 66 years of independence, it is incumbent to remind ourselves that we still have some catching up to do in our unrelenting quest to boost transportation infrastructure,” he said.

Ghana, he said, needed an efficient transportation system such as railway to decentralise the economy and relocate commercial activities away from already congested urban areas to other parts of the country.

“Ghana cannot decentralise the economy without an efficient transportation system such as a strategic and effective rail network,” he added.

Alternative approach

The Deputy Minister for Railway Development, Kwaku Asante-Boateng, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that the cost burden of constructing the nationwide rail network was huge and could not be met by the country’s current financial situation.

He said unless alternative means were adopted to involve local artisans in the development of the rail network, the cost would delay the process.

“A kilometre of railway line is $5 million, and here we are seeking $3 billion from the IMF; if we don’t find local means of developing the railway network, then we may not go far with railway development,” he said.

Current state

No train has run on the Kantamanto–Nsawam or the Accra–Tema lines since March 20, 2020, although they were once blistering rail lines that served traders and commuters on the eastern and the western sides of the capital.

During the period, moves to resuscitate the railway infrastructure in the national capital have stalled, raising questions about the commitment of the authorities to revive the city’s rail transport.

It has been identified that widespread encroachment on lands earmarked for railway redevelopment is hampering the redevelopment of the Ashanti Regional corridor of the western railway line.

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