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Eastern rail line to be revamped

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey
 Minister of Railway Development, Mr Joe Ghartey
Minister of Railway Development, Mr Joe Ghartey

The first rail line with electric locomotives and coaches to link Tema, Accra and Kumasi would be established and completed in the next three years.

The $2.2 billion Eastern Railway line project will bring the Kumasi-Accra railway line, which has been dormant for the past 18 years, to life.

These were disclosed at the start of concession agreement negotiations for the Eastern Standard Gauge line between investors with the Ghana-European Railway Consortium (GERC) and representatives of the government of Ghana at Peduase in the Eastern Region.

The government will have a minority share of the deal which will see six main rail stations and 34 substations with a double line track being constructed.

Upon completion of the project there will be 340 kilometres of rail line built and 24 passenger trains and six coaches installed, which will all be powered by electricity.

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Furthermore, the rail system is expected to use more than 80,000 mega watts of electricity annually.

Boost for economic activities

Before commencement of the negotiations process, the Minister of Railway Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, said, "the railway we are seeking to build is a modern one. I strongly believe the railway sector will transform our nation".

He was hopeful that the project would be a shinning example of Ghana-German cooperation and would boost economic activities.

Most especially, it is expected that economic activities at the Boankra inland port will receive a major boost when the rail line was completed.

Mr Ghartey said the project would be on a build, operate and transfer basis (BOT).

He said the outcome of negotiations at Peduase would be forwarded to Cabinet for approval after which it would be submitted to Parliament for consideration and approval.

The Minster of Planning, Prof. George Yaw Gyan Baffour, said the government planned to revamp the rail sector in Ghana since it was essential for the economic transformation of the country and to also improve mobility.

Ready for action

A member of the consortium, Mr Heinz Kroczek, said the GERC was ready to begin work as soon as Parliament and Cabinet approved the deal.

He described the railway line to be a nation building project, as it would affect many lives positively in terms of job creation and improving living conditions.

Mr Kroczek said about 5,000 jobs would be created at the construction stage while an additional 3,000 people would be employed at the post construction stages.

Additionally, he said, 540 Ghanaians would be employed in a rail slipper factory that would be established to manufacture 1,000 slippers daily as part of the project.

As part of the deal, he said, some Ghanaians would go to Germany to be trained and equiped with the needed skills to manage the rail lines.

Structure

According to the GERC, it proposes to build a double rail line with maintenance roads and fencing on each side to protect the rail line and prevent encroachment.

The Eastern Railway line project will consist of three major stations in Accra, Koforidua and Kumasi and will also have 30 minor stations along the way.

It would have passenger and freight coaches that would operate as intercity, inter-region and local trains for 19 hours each day and will comprise also of a straight train from Kumasi to Accra that will stop in transit in Koforidua after two-and-half hours.

The entire project will be completed in three years even though a single track that will run from Nsawam to Kumasi will be completed in two years.

According to the brief, the investors expect to recoup their investment in 27 years.