Railway sector being resurrected – President Akufo-Addo
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that the railway sector, which was virtually non-existent before his administration took office on 7th January, 2017, is being revived and resurrected.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, 19th December, 2018, President Akufo-Addo stated that “the existing narrow-gauge network, which had almost disappeared, and led to a generation of young Ghanaians hardly knowing about railways, is coming alive.”
The President explained that rehabilitation work on the 56 kilometre narrow gauge line from Kojokrom to Tarkwa through Nsuta is nearing completion, and will lead to the restoration of passenger rail services from Tarkwa to Takoradi for the first time since 2007.
“The freight service from the manganese mine at Nsuta to Takoradi is in operation, and the ongoing rehabilitation has also led to a spectacular reduction in the number of derailments and incidents that occur on the line,” he added.
Particularly touched by the enthusiasm of the workers, at his last visit to the Ghana Railway Company Ltd., President Akufo-Addo told the media that the company, with its own workforce, has started rehabilitation works on the 70.8 kilometre narrow gauge section of the Eastern Railway Line from Accra to Nsawam and Accra to Tema.
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“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.
The President continued that rehabilitation of the Achimota to Tema section of the line is approximately 90% complete, and test runs have commenced. “Work is ongoing on the Achimota to Accra Central section of the line and the Achimota to Nsawam section, and I have been assured that this will be completed before the end of the year.”
As a result, he noted that 10 existing passenger coaches have also been refurbished, ready to be pressed into action when commuter services re-open on this line.
“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,” President Akufo-Addo indicated.
A major difficulty, which could slow down the work of this exciting development, he said, is the nuisance posed by encroachers, and appealed to all Ghanaians “to join in and be part of this exciting development, and not place any hindrances in the path of bringing modern railways to our country.”
President Akufo-Addo also indicated that there is a lot of excitement and a lot of activity in the aviation sector, with the entry of two new private airlines offering services along the domestic routes.
“We welcome the competition, as this, already, is bringing down the prices for customers. Terminal 3, at Kotoka International Airport, is open for business and attracting a lot of positive comments. I expect that the managers of this facility will maintain it at the highest standards. The airports at Ho and Wa are ready, and we await the commercial flights that have been promised,” he added.
The President indicated also that there will be even greater excitement in the country when work on repairing and building many roads around the country intensifies.
With the $2 billion Sino-Hydro project about to take off, he stated that US dollar barter deal should bring a dramatic and very welcome change to our infrastructure developments, especially in the roads sector.
“The roads that are going to be tackled first, under the facility, have been enumerated, and they should make a great and immediate difference to the lives of many people. The first $650 million worth of projects has been approved by Parliament, and are ready for execution,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the professionals who would be supervising and working on the projects must ensure value for money.
“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. I am determined that we should use what opportunities there are to raise ourselves out of poverty, but there is no chance that I would ever preside over the loss of Ghana’s sovereignty to any foreign country,” the President assured.
The repayment of the facility, he assured, is through the supply of aluminium products to China, as the country has resisted any attempt to export the raw material for the repayment.
“That is why we have established the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation, a statutory corporation, to take charge of the development of the full value chain of our bauxite resources. The Corporation is ready to begin work. Not only is this an innovative way to raise funds for our infrastructure development, but it also enables us to establish an industry with a metal, which is described as the metal of the future, and which can be a major catalyst for our industrialisation,” President added.