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Railway sector receiving major transformation

BY: Kobby Asmah & Chris Nunoo
FLASHBACK: Workers rehabilitating the Avenor section of the railway line
FLASHBACK: Workers rehabilitating the Avenor section of the railway line

The country’s railway sector is receiving a major transformation, following the injection of more resources to resuscitate the sector.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said at his second media encounter at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday that the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL), with its own workforce, had started rehabilitation works on the 70.8-kilometre narrow gauge section of the Eastern railway line from Accra to Nsawam and Accra to Tema.

“We are not only rehabilitating the old narrow-gauge line. I am happy to report that the procurement process is far advanced to develop a new standard gauge line for the Eastern railway line and others for us to have a network that covers the whole country,” he added.

Enthusiasm of workers

He said when he went to see the work on the railway lines, he was particularly touched by the enthusiasm of the workers.

“They did not have or need any foreign experts, so-called; they had the expertise, and those who did not were ready to learn and they certainly had enough enthusiasm to carry them through,” he said.

In line with that, he appealed to all citizens “to join in and be part of this exciting development and not place any hindrance in the path of bringing modern railways to our country”.

He noted, however, that “a major difficulty, which could slow down the work of this exciting development, is the nuisance posed by encroachers. I want to take this opportunity to appeal again to the citizenry”.    

Test runs

The President said the rehabilitation of the Achimota-Tema section of the line was approximately 90 per cent complete and test runs had commenced.

Additionally, he said, work was ongoing on the Achimota-Accra Central section of the line and the Achimota-Nsawam section and gave an assurance that  it would be completed soon.

Furthermore, the President said, 10 existing passenger coaches had been refurbished, ready to be put into action when commuter services reopened on the line.

“We are resurrecting the railways. The existing narrow-gauge network, which had almost disappeared and led to a generation of young Ghanaians hardly knowing about railways, is coming alive.

 Rehabilitation work on the 56-kilometre narrow-gauge line from Kojokrom to Tarkwa through Nsuta is nearing completion.

 This will lead to the restoration of passenger rail services from Tarkwa to Takoradi for the first time since 2007,” he stated.
 
The President said the freight service from the manganese mine at Nsuta to Takoradi was in operation and the ongoing rehabilitation had also led to a spectacular reduction in the number of derailments and accidents that occurred on the line.  

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Aviation sector

On aviation, the President had this to say: “There is excitement and a lot of activity in the aviation sector, and it is good to note the entry of two new private airlines offering services along the domestic routes.

“We should welcome the competition, as this, already, is bringing down the fares for customers.

“Terminal Three at the Kotoka International Airport is open for business and attracting a lot of positive comments.

I expect that the managers of the facility will maintain it at the highest standards. The airports in Ho and Wa are ready and we await the commercial flights that have been promised.”

Sino-Hydro project

Touching on the Sino-Hydro project, President Akufo-Addo said he was hopeful that the $2-billion barter deal that had been negotiated with China would bring a dramatic change to infrastructure development in the country, especially in the road sector.

 The roads that were going to be tackled first under the facility, he said, had been enumerated, and they should make a great and immediate difference to the lives of many people.

“The first $650 million worth of projects have been approved by Parliament and are ready for execution.

 It is now up to our professionals, who will be supervising and working on the projects, to make sure that we get value for money,” he said.

Dependency on China

 “I am aware that there is some anxiety among some people that we might be putting ourselves in a position of too much dependency on China,” President Akufo-Addo pointed out.

However, he said “for far too long, the lack of money had hampered development and dampened self-confidence.

I am determined that we should use what opportunities there are to raise ourselves out of poverty, but there is no chance that I will ever preside over the loss of Ghana’s sovereignty to any foreign country”.

“The settlement of our obligation is through the supply of aluminium products to China.

 We have resisted any attempt to export the raw material for the settlement. That is why we have established the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation, a statutory corporation, to take charge of the development of the full value chain of our bauxite resources,” he  explained.