The Minister for Railways Development, Joe Ghartey, has reiterated that government is on course to ensure that railway in Ghana, especially the western rail line, is completed and restored to its former state.
He indicated that government envisaged that the railway system covered the entire country, by 2035.
Mr Ghartey gave the assurance when he addressed the standing committee of the Western Regional House of Chiefs, at Essikado, as part of stakeholders’ engagement on the state of Ghana’s railway.
“Railway is the heartbeat of the Western Region, and we are on course to ensure that the projects are successful. Some feasibility studies have been completed and contracts signed for some of the projects to take off,” he explained.
The minister indicated that the government had signed a 560 million dollar contract with Amandi Holdings Ltd, for the extension of about 102 km on the western rail line from Manso to Huni Valley (60km), and described it as the largest single contract to be signed.
This included 8km from Kojokrom to Takoradi Port and the 10 km stretch from Kojokrom to Takoradi and Kojokrom to Manso (22km) standard gauge line, Mr Ghartey said.
He said the reconstruction would improve passenger services and the haulage of all cargoes, adding that the narrow gauge system from Kojokrom through Eshiem (5 km), where a new 300-metre bridge was being constructed, would reach Manso (17km), but, the Huni Valley line (60km) would operate on the new 102 Km standard gauge line.
Mr Ghartey mentioned that haul huge volumes of manganese with 33 trains from Nsuta to the Takoradi port, posed a challenge to traffic and safety, as new trains would ply the standard gauge at the speed of 160 kilometres per hour.
The Managing Director of Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL), Mr John Essel, thanked the government for the injection of huge capital into the company for it to be self-reliant and efficient in its operations.
He said with the capital injection, GRCL would be able to pay salaries of staff and other related expenses up to March 2021.
Mr Essel announced that GRCL would take delivery of track tools, spare parts and equipment, imported by Ghana Manganese Company Limited, to facilitate the rehabilitation of five locomotives and several mineral wagons.
He said it was to augment the current fleet of trains, to increase the haulage of manganese ore from Nsuta to the Takoradi port for export.
The President of the WRHC, Ogyeawoho Yaw Gyebi II, commended Mr Ghartey for his efforts at improving the railway system.
He appealed to chiefs to support the railway sector by releasing lands for projects, and desist from demanding huge land compensation from the government.