Work on the Tema-Mpakadan Railway project is progressing steadily with the first 1.2km of railway line laid at Doryumu in the Greater Accra Region.
Levelling of 35 km of the ground from Tema to Doryumu has also been completed and awaiting the laying of tracks.
In addition, 40,000 out of the more than 200,000 concrete sleepers needed for the project have been produced by AFCONS Infrastructure, a local plant set up in Ghana by the project executors.
During an inspection tour of the project by the Chief Executive of the Ghana Railway Development Authority, Mr Richard Dombo, the Project Manager of AFCONS Infrastructure, Mr Udai Veer Singh, said the project was on course and would meet its completion timeline of June 2020.
Apart from the 1.2 km railway line at Doryumu, the Daily Graphic also observed that trucks were busily carting railway lines and sleepers to the site.
Giving a breakdown of work done so far, Mr Singh said work on 80 bridges had been completed with 30 others currently in progress. In total, he said, 157 bridges were to be built on the 97.3 -km stretch of the railway.
He said 18,000 sleepers were in production currently and would be added to the 40,000 already casted and that by March 2020, all the sleepers needed for the project would have been produced.
Furthermore, he said, 8,000 out of a total of 12,000 tonnes of rail line required to line the tracks were on site, with the remaining expected before the year ends.
However, Mr Singh said the company did not have access to 4.5 km of track way because there were still structures on it that were yet to be demolished in spite of compensation having been paid to the land owners.
“The only challenge now is getting access to areas that have houses and other structures. Once that is available, we will work speedily,” he said.
He declined though to give the percentage of work that had been completed, saying the company was on track with its timelines and was even doing better on its monthly targets.
Mr Dombo expressed satisfaction with work done so far but expressed concern about the excessively complicated administrative procedures on the part of the Lands Commission which, he said, was delaying the project.
For instance, he said instead of valuing crops and properties at the same time, the two were being done separately and thereby delaying the project while its starting date continued to run.
“The whole essence of decentralisation is efficiency. Now we have instances where valuations on lands that we have acquired have been done but instead of the Lands Valuation Division in the Western Region having the authority to give values because they are the ones on site, it has to be sent to the headquarters in Accra.
“In some instances, values given by the persons on site go to the headquarters and a different value, this time higher, is returned. As a government institution working with the Lands Commission, the amounts that are received from the commission [brings tears to the eyes],” he said.
He said the Ghana Railway Development Authority had petitioned the Minister of Railway Development to discuss the issue with the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources.
The Tema-Mpakadan Railway project is being funded by the Indian EXIMBANK and was originally estimated to cost about $400 million and expected to terminate at Akosombo in the Eastern Region but had been redirected to end at Mpakadan
The decision to redirect the line was taken because the original design which had the rail line terminating at Akosombo posed a threat to the more than 50-year-old Akosombo Dam.
AFCONS Infrastructure Limited, a subsidiary of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, is India’s third largest construction company and was awarded the contract on July 2, 2018.
The project variation meant that the standard railway line from Tema to Mpakadan on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis has been expanded from 85 km to 97.3 km.