Parliament approves €598.7m for railways

Parliament has approved an agreement between the government and Deutsche Bank AG for an amount of €523 million to finance the construction of sections of the western railway line on standard gauge from Takoradi Port to Huni Valley. 

The House also approved a commercial loan agreement between the parties for an amount of €75,657,500 for the sand stretch of railway line. 

A request for tax waiver of import duties, Import VAT, NHIL, GETFund Levy, Exim Levy, Special Import Levy and Domestic VAT amounting to the Ghana cedi equivalent of €72,287,717 on project materials and equipment for the project was also approved. 

The scope of work, contained in the Finance Committee’s report, approved by the plenary of the House in Accra yesterday comprise construction of approximately eight kilometre of standard gauge railway tracks connecting the existing convertible narrow gauge tracks from Takoradi to the Takoradi Port easy and efficient access for cargo handling. 

It also includes the conversion of a 10.6-kilometre convertible narrow gauge tracks between Takoradi and Kojokrom and the construction of approximately 70-kilometre new standard gauge line from Manso to Huni Valley, amongst others. 

The project, to be executed by Amandi Investment, would be completed within a period of 42 months from the date of commencement. 

On environmental impact, the Committee report said the Ministry of Railways Development (MRD), the implementing agency, would hold consultations with the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry on lands acquisition. 

“The MRD will further consult the Environmental Protection Agency to obtain approval for the environmental and social impact assessment on the project,” the report said indicating that “the acquisition of EPA permit is a condition precedent for effectiveness of the commercial contract.” 

The western railway line which stretches between Takoradi and Kumasi, the report said, is with a branch line from Dunkwa to Awaso which measures 340 kilometres. 

A very busy stretch of rail line for the transportation of commodities such as manganese, bauxite, cocoa, timber, cement and petroleum products in the past, the report said the stretch has deteriorated due to several decades of neglect and underfunding. 

As a result, customers that previously transported goods by rail have been compelled to use road and only a small fraction of manganese is transported by rail, the report observed. 

To address this, the report said a comprehensive and systemic approach has been adopted to develop the country’s railways sector. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI 

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