A memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the government and the China Civil Engineers Construction Corporation (CCECC) for the construction of the Kumasi to the north section of the country’s railway project.
The MoU will be consummated in September this year in China for a loan from the China Exim Bank for the project, which is otherwise referred to as the Central Spine (Kumasi-the North) phase of the railway system, to take off.
Credited with the construction of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, the Chinese company has dispatched a delegation to Ghana to assess the project and take suggestions from the Ministry of Railway Development, state agencies and social partners on how to develop and implement the multi-million-dollar project.
The Chinese delegation was led by the Minister of Railway Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, and a team of engineers from the ministry to pay a courtesy call on the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi on Thursday.
The delegation was at Manhyia to seek advice from the Asantehene and ask his permission to conduct feasibility studies on the Central Spine railway project.
The Kumasi-North section lines are to be routed through areas such as Nyinahin, Bibiani, Goaso, Sunyani and other adjourning towns to the north.
The new design is to avoid a situation where the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) will have to pull down many structures if the railway is routed from Adum, Kumasi to the north, since the consequences will be too severe.
Receiving the delegation, the Asantehene suggested to the Ministry of Railway Development to route the rail lines through strategic areas that would be economically viable and beneficial to the entire country.
He said it was important that the lines were designed to cover areas where economic activities were brisk in order to carry more cargo, instead of focusing on transporting human beings, in order to generate revenue to repay the loan.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu advised the Chinese company to replicate the same standard in the execution of the project in Ghana as it had delivered to other countries.
Mr Ghartey, who took the Asantehene and some of his chiefs through the new plan, said the $7.8-billion project had been segmented into three — the Eastern line (which is from Tema through Accra to Kumasi), the Western line (Kumasi to Takoradi) and the Central Spine, from Kumasi to the North.
He said 14 companies, both local and foreign, that had been shortlisted for the Eastern line project had six weeks to make their final submissions for the award of the contract.
As a sequel to that, he said, the ministry and its allied bodies would begin public education by September on the right of way, especially for those who had encroached upon the Ejisu-Adum stretch of the Kumasi-Accra railway.
The minister said those who had acquired the land legally would be compensated, but no compensation would be paid to those who had encroached on railway lands.
In line with the project, he suggested to the Asantehene to contemplate building a new city, preferably in Kumasi, as it was done in Cote d’Ivoire and other countries.
The Commercial Manager for the CCECC, Alex Huang, pledged the commitment of the company to deliver a high quality project that would be beneficial to the entire country.