Work on the eastern railway project is expected to commence in August this year following commencement of negotiations on the concession agreement with the preferred contractor.
The 340 kilometres line runs from the Tema Port through Accra to Koforidua and ends in Kumasi.
The negotiations, when concluded, would be presented to Cabinet for consideration and later to Parliament for approval during its next sitting after the break in April.
The build, operate and transfer (BOT) project is currently estimated to cost US$2.2 billion dollars by the contractor, Ghana European Railway Consortium (GERC) which includes the Keteke Group, Havellandische Eisenbahn AG, SALCEF S.p.A, and Voestalpine VAR GmbH, among others.
Speaking at the launch of start of negotiations on the concession agreement at Peduase in the Eastern Region, Minister of Railway Development, Joe Ghartey, explained that government has resolved to hold a 30 per cent stake in the concession agreement for the project.
Ghana’s negotiations team, which includes officials from the Ministry, Ghana Railway Corporation, Attorney General’s office, Ministry of Finance and others, he said, would ensure the best deal for the country.
Among other things, Spokesperson for the Consortium, Heinz Kroczek, stated that the group was proposing to build, within three years, a double line railroad with fencing on each side as well as three major stations in Accra, Kumasi and Koforidua and 30 minor stations and stopping points.
As a first in the country, the locomotives and coaches which they were proposing to operate for 27 years, he said would be electric with more than 80,000 megawatts of electricity expected to be used annually.
Additionally, the consortium would establish a sleeper factory with the capacity to produce over 1000 sleepers a day and provide employment to 550 Ghanaians, he noted.
Operationally, Mr. Kroczek said the group proposeto work with 24 passenger trains and six freight trains per day which would be broken into inter-city, regional and local trains.
About 12,000 to 18,000 passengers and four million tonnes of freight, he said would be moved per day when the project is completed and operated.
In addition to the employment of 1000 Ghanaians for the operation and management of the railway line and trains, the consortium, the Spokesperson said, would set-up training centres to build the capacities of workers engaged by the company.
Deputy Minister of Railways Development, Kwaku Agyenim Boateng, noted that the project would include a branch line at Bosusoto Kyebito support the bauxite mines in the area.
As at February last year, he said 45 interested firms had submitted proposals to the tender committee of the Ministry which were subsequently subjected to rigorous scrutiny and processes before GERC was accepted as the preferred contractor.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS