Govt approves $230m for railway redevelopment project…..for the purchase of 30 rolling stocks

The government has approved $230million for the purchase of a number of rolling stocks as part of the railway redevelopment project being undertaken for the country.

The stocks numbering 30 are to be mounted on the new rail lines currently under construction and will include; locomotives, carriages, railroad cars as well as wagons to ensure smooth operationalisation.

Addressing journalists at the Wednesday edition of the bi-weekly media briefings organised by the Ministry of Information yesterday, the Minister of Railways Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, said that the procurement of the 30 rolling stocks would be the largest amount of stocks brought at a single time into the country since 1898.

“We don’t want a situation where the rail lines are completed and there are no trains to mount on them because when that happens, how can we even test the lines. When you are dealing with rail lines you must also look at rolling stock,” he emphasized.

According to the Minister even though the approval had been given by the government, the Ministry was yet to place the order because some consultants had been engaged to look at what kind of cargo and vans were needed for the country.

However, he said, he was sure that by the end of July, the orders would have been placed to ensure that the rolling stocks arrived on time for the operation of the lines as well as test its integrity.

Mr Ghartey said the President’s vision of revamping the sector was on course and soon the transformation would be witnessed by Ghanaians.

He said a lot of ground works had been undertaken over the last two years to ensure that the once abandoned sector became vibrant again to serve as the fulcrum around which the new industrialisation drive revolved.

“Slowly but surely the President’s vision of developing a modern and efficient rail industry is taking shape and we are progressing steadily,” he said.

According to him, currently the rehabilitation of the 56kilometre existing narrow gauge from Kojokrom to Tarkwa through Nsuta was underway and it was being undertaken by workers of the Ghana Railway Company.

He said the main objective of the project was to restore passenger rail services from Tarkwa to Tarkoradi as well as haulage of manganese from Nsuta to the Takoradi Port.

In addition to this he explained that a new standard gauge was been constructed in sections with Messers Amandi Holdings constructing  five kilometres from Kojokrom-Eshiem and 17 kilometres from Eshiem to Manso and beyond.

Mr Ghartey further noted that Messers China Railway Wuju Corporation was undertaking the construction of the 97kilometres Tarkwa- Dunkwa stretch with extension from Dunkwa to Awaso and Kumasi.

He said the contract for the Eshiem-Manso new standard lines was signed in February last year subject to three conditions precedent which were satisfied after negotiations.

“Contract has been re-negotiated in line with recommendations of the value-for money audit and contractors already mobilised to site and works expected to be completed by August next year.

The Minister said funding arrangements were on-going with China Development Bank for $1billion credit facility out of which $500million had been earmarked for the western line.

On the Eastern Rail Line, he said the rehabilitation of the Tema section was completed in December last year with passenger service re-launched in January, 2019. In addition, rehabilitation works on the Achimota-Nsawam section was nearing completion and test runs had commenced.

Mr Ghartey said the Eastern Lines was to be developed on a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis with government participation, adding that “The Ministry of Railway Development commenced negotiations with preferred bidder on April, 2019.”

Touching on the Central Line he noted that it consisted of the line from Kotoku on the Eastern Line to Huni-Valley on the Western Line which was a distance of about 198.7kilometres and a branch line from Achiase junction to Kade which was a distance of about 40.2kilometres.

He said the ministry was currently undertaking feasibility studies to determine the financial and socio-economic and environmental viability of the line to justify its redevelopment, stressing that “Consultant has been engaged and assignment officially commenced on March 13, 2019.”

Mr Ghartey noted that progress had been made on the central spine which would start from Kumasi through Aduadin-Ahenema, Kokoben-Nerebehi, Mankraso-Bechem-Duayaw Nkwanta, Sunyani-Chiraa-Techiman-Tamale to Paga.

He said the feasibility studies by the consultants was on-going and expected to be completed soon and submitted to the ministry.

By Cliff Ekuful

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