The Ministry of Railway Development says it will need about $8 billion to rehabilitate the country’s rail sector.
Speaking to JoyBusiness at the re-launch of the Accra -Tema rail service after a temporal shut down, sector minister Joe Ghartey expressed satisfaction at the level of development so far in the railway sector.
Mr Ghartey said, “Let’s cost a kilometre of rail between 3 million and 4 million dollars depending on whether its electric or diesel, we are seeking to do over 2000 kilometres, multiply by 4 and its about 8 billion dollars, me and you know that the government of Ghana does not have 8 million dollars sitting down to give to the railway sector so we are using a number of financial models.”
He added, “We are doing the BOT where we invite people to come and join us, some of them, we are funding ourselves, others, Build Operate Transfer ( BOT), government to participation, where we can take a bit of it, we can value our assets to be part of the contribution, we are also taking loans, for example, Indian Exim loan, so it’s a multitude of financial methods we are using,” he explained.
He added that the government of Ghana and South African have reached an agreement that will see South Africa assisting Ghana to achieve the transformation agenda.
The technical corporation agreement will have South Africa provide technical support to Ghana for the purpose of developing the country’s railway network and existing railway infrastructure
As part of the transformation, agenda government has developed a plan to build a modern railway network from the South to the North of Ghana with associated infrastructure.
Government’s master plan for the railway sector entails the construction of about 407 kilometres of new railway network across the country.
The Accra-Tema rail line was shut down for almost two years to allow maintenance and repair works after a minor accident.
The re-launch is expected to bring relief to commuters along Accra, Odowna, Achimota, Bastoona, Asoprochona and Tema who are mostly traders.
According to Mr Ghartey, the revival of the Accra-Tema Railway line is one of the many interventions to transform the sector.
He said work is ongoing on the eastern and western rail lines.
THE NEW ACCRA-TEMA RAIL EXPERIENCE
As part of measures to entice former and new clients, the Ghana railway company is offering two weeks free on the route.
Commuters along the Accra, Odowna, Achimota, Bastoona, Asaprochona and Tema can enjoy free rides between 6and 7:30 AM daily from Tema community one to Accra central and back from Accra between 5:40 pm and 7:22 pm.
The newly refurbished coaches are spacious enough to accommodate 600 passengers at every given time.
On board are also well-trained train hostess to ensure the comfort and safety of passengers.
COST OF TRANSPORTATION
The Ghana railway company says it is yet to decide on how much it will cost commuters to travel along the stretch.
According to deputy managing director of the Ghana railway company limited, engineer Dr Micheal Adjei Anyetei, fares will be fixed before the end of the free ride period.
“We are yet to decide how it will cost passengers to travel on the route but that will be decided on very soon. We are not able to price now because we have not been able to agree on an amount after an attempt to do so failed with the ministry. The ministry felt we were a bit high and needed to come down so we are still working on that and will come back with new fares soon and definitely it will be in the interest of our customers” he indicated.
ENCROACHMENT ON RAIL LINES
The Tema - Accra rail service was suspended for over a years following a minor accident on the stretch.
After months of rehabilitation, the Ghana Railway Company Limited was expected to reopen on December 22 last year but that was postponed due to activities of squatters and encroachers along the rail lines.
Even though the service has been reopened, not much has changed.
According to the minister of the minister of railway development Mr Ghartey, much progress has been made with regards to encroachers even though more is still needed to permanently deal with the menace.
“I cannot say we are successful but we have made some progress. We are looking at several options including fencing the rail line to deal with the issues permanently. That is not to say we will fence all the rail lines in the country but we will be looking at high-risk areas so that we can protect both properties and human lives”. Joe Ghartey said.
According to Mr Ghartey, the reopening of the Accra-Tema rail service is one of the many steps towards making the rail sector a vibrant and viable one.