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Railways Minister under fire over Central Railway Projects

BY FRANCISCA EMEFA ENCHILL

PRESSURE IS piling on the government to begin work on the Central Railway Line, which is considered to be one of the most crucial projects of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government as it strives to revive Ghana’s ailing railway industry.

The government earlier this year shortlisted some nine firms which submitted detailed Technical and Financial proposals for the development of the Central Spine Railway Line from Kumasi to Paga by the end of March, 2018 for further evaluation.

But, according to some stakeholders in the railway sector, the project appears to be “gathering dust and dragging on unduly.

“The NPP government is currently in its second year and not a single railway line has been fully developed, a situation which many believe will affect the political fortunes of the party in the 2020 elections,” a staff member of the Ghana Railways Company Limited, who did not want to be named, told the DAILY HERITAGE yesterday.

Background

The Ministry, headed by senior lawyer and politician, Mr Joe Ghartey, is expected to partner its implementing agencies to ensure the realisation of the 595-km Greenfield Project, which will be running from Kumasi. The project is to develop a railway corridor between Kumasi and Paga to improve rail and logistics infrastructure, as part of an integrated transport network in Ghana.

The project also seeks to improve rail transport services for passenger and freight, thereby reducing the cost of transportation, especially in trade to and from the the hinterland and the Northern regions of Ghana, as well as to Burkina Faso and other Sahelian countries.

The project, which is also known in the Ghana Railways Master Plan as ‘Central Spine Expansion’, forms part of the development of the railway network expansion programme in the country.

The Minister earlier this year informed Parliament that the government had already selected a consortium of firms led by Messrs Vision Consult Limited of Ghana in partnership with Messrs Gauff Ingenieure of Germany and Messrs ILF Consulting Engineers of Germany, after which a contract was signed in December 2017.

Details from Ministry

Sources at the Ministry confirmed to the DAILY HERITAGE that the Ministry of Railway Development had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to develop the existing railway and construct new ones on the basis of engineering, procurement and construction.

But, the concerned staff member told the paper that they were worried about the seeming non-action and calling on the sector minister to fast-track the implementation of the projects.

“Joe Ghartey has weeks, if not months, to demonstrate his efficiency in the execution of these projects else [he] risks being reshuffled by the President, who is bent on fulfilling his manifesto pledges, which include a massive revamping of the country’s railway sector,” they stated.

Source: www.dailyheritage.com.gh/Muftaw Mohammed

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