President John Mahama last Saturday inaugurated the newly constructed Sekondi/Takoradi-Kojokrom suburban railway line and declared that, "This marks the beginning of the transformation of the railway network in Ghana."
He said his next term would see accelerated development of the railways to reclaim Ghana's lost glory in railway development.
Funded by the government, the suburban line, which is part of the Western railway line, would be operated by the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA).
There are also two new diesel multiple units and air conditioned coaches to provide passenger services.
The project has all the facilities fit for a modern suburban line, including turnstiles, CCTV cameras and physically challenged-compliant features.
The line connects four reconstructed points as well as modernised stations.
It will reduce congestion on the roads, enhance productivity and provide comfort for commuters.
President Mahama traced the history of Ghana's railway network back to 1898 and said it was regrettable that the once enviable asset had been neglected.
Sekondi-Takoradi, he said, was the heart of the railway network in Ghana, which provided employment to many people, but today very little could be said about what used to be the envy of other West African countries.
"Indeed, some years back, we reached the lowest point in our railway development when railway tracks were uprooted and sold as scrap. The whole city of Sekondi and the workshop, popularly known as Location, went very quiet," President Mahama said as excited crowds at the inaugural ceremony cheered him on.
President Mahama cutting the tape to inaugurate the railway line
He promised that in his second term in office "by the Grace of God and the will of the Ghanaian people", rail transport in Ghana would see massive development.
Making reference to the 2016 election manifesto of the NDC, he said: "We will commence work on the construction of the Western Railway Line from Kojokrom through Awaso, Dunkwa to Kumasi. Also work will commence on the Eastern Railway Line from Tema through Boankra to Kumasi."
Already, he said, the government had begun the process of ‘concessioning’ the Western railway line to the Ghana Port and Harbours Authority (GPHA) for possible construction.
Also a transaction advisor has been engaged by the government to engage a strategic private investor to partner the government for the construction of the Eastern railway line and the Boankra Inland Port as one package.
He added that work would commence on the Tema-Akosombo railway line.
Funding for the project, the President said, had been received from the India Exim Bank, and already, Cabinet and parliamentary approvals had also been given, and that work was expected to begin by March 2017.
President Mahama further stated that the government would complete feasibility studies and commence construction works on the Northern line to link Kumasi through the north to Burkina Faso, while building suburban lines between Accra, Amasaman and Nsawam, as well as from Kumasi to Ejisu and Boankra.
He paid tribute to the late President J.E.A. Mills under whose administration the new suburban project was conceptualised.
According to the President, the contract for the project was signed in 2012.
President Mahama said the NDC's commitment to revamp the railway sector had been consistent, systematic and strategic.
In 2010, he said, the government rebuilt the railway line from Asaprochona to the Tema Harbour and later extended it to Community One in Tema.
The Chief Executive Officer of GRDA, Mr A.A. Sadique, said the new line would bring relief to the people of the twin city.
The President of the Western Regional House of Chiefs, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II, commended the government for the numerous development projects it had executed in the region.