Govt adopts total solution to revive railway network - Joe Ghartey
The government has decided to adopt a total solutions strategy to revive the collapsed railway system and expand the network to other parts of the country.
This strategy involves, among other things, the construction of new standard gauge lines from Accra to Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi to Kumasi, Kumasi to Paga and Accra-Tema to Paga through Ho, Yendi and Tamale.
The Minister of Railways Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, who made this known in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra, said it would also include the rehabilitation of sections of the old narrow gauge network on the eastern and the western lines, the rehabilitation of the rolling stock and also the purchasing of new rolling stock.
He added that the total solutions strategy would also have a comprehensive human resource development in Ghana, as well as overseas.
Currently, Mr Ghartey said, the Accra to Nsawam line, which is part of the eastern line, was undergoing rehabilitation to re-open the Accra to Tema and the Accra to Nsawam passenger services.
He said the main contractor for the project, the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL), was negotiating with Transnet International Holdings of South Africa, to be the technical consultants for the project and also to provide rolling stock.
“A new standard gauge will also be constructed and 14 companies are still competing for Build Operate and Transfer (BOT). They are supposed to submit their final proposals on August 25, 2018 but they have requested an extension of six weeks for which I have granted four weeks” he added.
Throwing more light on the ongoing rehabilitation works of the narrow gauge from Takoradi to Tarkwa on the western line, Mr Ghartey
said results were showing that already, more freight trains were using the line than had been the case in recent times.
He also mentioned the GRCL as the contractors for the western line with a United Kingdom (UK) entity, Holtrade, as technical consultants.
Similarly, he said, an Israeli company, Amandi, had started the first phase of the standard gauge on the western line.
Mr Ghartey hinted that five engineers from the GRCL would by next week leave for South Africa for a four-week training, while 32 engineers from South Africa would come down to Ghana to partner the GRCL in the rehabilitation of the eastern and the western lines.
He said the Tema to Mpakadan project was being funded with an Indian Exim facility, while the rest of the work is being funded by the government of Ghana and the GRCL.
The Managing Director of the GRCL, Mr john Essel, in a contribution, said it was the first time in about 35 years that all aspects of the railways sector, concerning rehabilitation works, was receiving such attention from the government.
He said more than 50 workers in the sector had attended programmes in China and that others would soon leave for Pakistan and South Africa for training.
Mr Essel added that the defunct Railways Training School had been rehabilitated and would be relaunched as the Railways and Infrastructural Development College, to admit students in November this year.
The Railways Training School, Mr Essel said, had a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the George Grant University of Mines and Technology ( formerly University of Mines and Tecnology, UMAT) to be its mentor.
He said the college would start off with certificate programmes and later run diploma and degree programmes, subject to the approval of its accreditation.
The Tema to Akosombo railway line project has been repackaged into a Tema to Mpakadan project. The railway line will cross the Volta River and enter the Volta Region for the first time.
Contractors for the project are Afcons from India and it is expected to be completed by the second quarter of the year 2020.
The eastern line which is approximately 303km is from Accra-Tema to Kumasi, while the 85km Tema- Akosombo line which was redesigned from Tema to Mpakadan line, is approximately 100km.