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Ghana’s goal of connecting the north of the country to the south has been given a big boost with the completion of prefeasibility works on the Kumasi-Paga rail line, by Vision Consortium, the Consortium working on the feasibility studies on that line on behalf of the Railway Development Ministry.

The Consortium, have presented their report on the prefeasiblity work they have conducted on the line, to the Ministry of Railway. The event took place at the Railway Training School in Essikadu.

According to the Consortium, which is led by an indigenous Ghanaian-owned company, Vision Consult, there are three options available for Ghana to choose from, in terms of constructing a new rail line from Kumasi to Paga. Prof. D.K. Adarkwa, who led the presentation, revealed that the best option, according to their estimation, will be the line from Kumasi through Ejisu-Effiduase-Agona and Offinso to Techiman. However, Ghana would have to spend around seventy-one million dollars ($70.7 million) to pay compensations to people whose properties will be affected.

Seaking to the Press after receiving the report, the Minister for Railways Development, Hon. Joe Ghartey said he is upbeat about the prospect of fully reviving majority of Ghana’s rail network by the year 2020. He has therefore assured Ghanaians of Government’s resolve to extend train services from places such as Takoradi to Kumasi in 2020.
He expressed satisfaction with the work the Consortium, Vision Consortium, have done on the line.

“I think they’ve done an excellent job, especially because they’ve given us options. What you want from your Consultants are options. And you want them also to justify the options, and cost the options. You may not necessarily choose the cheapest option, because like they say; you can be penny-wise and pound foolish,” he said.

According to Hon. Ghartey, he has granted a request by the Consortium to be granted an extension of thirty (30) days to complete the work because he wants the group to do a great job. He added that they want to get the feasibility studies done early enough so that the Ministry can engage in better negotiations with interested parties.

“And so if you are doing some of these things and you don’t have your own feasibility, if you’re not careful, you will be at a disadvantage. That is why I’m encouraging them to finish fast, by August, so I will be in a position to, as it were, negotiate well with anybody or even if somebody comes here to do it Build, Operate, and Transfer (BOT), we will have our basic information that we can negotiate with.

“It has taken sometime because procurement takes time. We started this process last year, April. First of all, we had to procure the services of this group, a Ghanaian together with Germans. It took us about seven (7) months to procure, and now they’re working. They were supposed to finish in July, but they’ve asked for thirty (30) days extension,” he stated.

Cabinet Consideration

Hon. Joe Ghartey said the Cabinet is much interested in the development of the railway sector, that they are keenly following the progress of work in it. As such, he said, he will brief Cabinet on the outcome of the work that Vision Consortium have done in order to determine the next line of action.

“I will take the option they’ve brought to cabinet to inform cabinet that these are the options. I will get my marching orders from cabinet, and then I will come back to Vision Consortium, and hopefully, by August, they will give us the final report,” he stated.

He said even before they get the final report from the Consortium to determine the next line of action, the Ministry is already on the market looking for funding and a contractor.

“But as I said, we’re not waiting for the report before we start looking for the contractor. I have already started looking for the contractor and the funding, so that they will meet at the same time, and hopefully by the last quarter of this year, we would have started the construction of the rail line for Kumasi to Paga, but first from Kumasi to Tamale,” he told Pressmen.

Funding Model for the various Sections

The cost involved in getting Ghana’s railway network back to normal functioning is very huge. Some people have had cause to doubt where government is going to raise funds for these ambitious efforts being undertaken. Explaining how they intend to fund the rebuilding of the railway sector, Hon. Joe Ghartey told the press “we are using a multiple of financial models to seek to construct the lines. Bear in mind that the development that we are embarking upon, we have turned the whole railway network into various sections. The sections are based on sections that can stand by themselves. For example if you don’t build any line, and you just build Accra to Kumasi, it can stand by itself. If you build Takoradi to Kumasi, it can stand by itself. And if you want to go North, then you go for Kumasi to Paga.”

…..Accra To Kumasi

Hon Joe Ghartey explained that some companies have shown huge interest in constructing the Accra to Kumasi line on a Build, Operate, and Transfer (BOT) basis. He added that with the seriousness of the interested companies, and Government, he is confident of a positive response to the sector, by the last quarter of this year.

“Accra to Kumasi, we are on the way. What is happening is that we have people who have shown interest to do BOT. We have reached the last stage which is called request for proposals. We’ve already gone through the request for qualification stage. This is the stage where you ask the people to give you some details as to their capacity; whether they have the finance, whether they have done something before, etc.

“And we have gone far.. They are very serious companies. I am confident that God being on our side, by the last quarter of this year, we would’ve signed the contract to start the Accra to Kumasi development,” he stated.

….. Takoradi to Kumasi

On the Takoradi-Kumasi rail line, Hon. Joe Ghartey, who is the Member of parliament of the Essikadu-Ketan Constituency of the Western Region, said work is currently underway to get the line to Manso. He mentioned that Amandi is the company working on the line currently.

“As far as Takoradi to Kumasi is concerned, we have already signed a contract with Amandi who are doing it up to Manso, that’s the end of the double line. We are also in talks with a lot of people to complete it. That also, we shall come to conclusions by the last quarter of this year,” he said.

He added that companies like Transnet International Holdings have all been contacted to look at the prospects of helping Ghana to complete the line to Kumasi, from Manso.

“As I speak Transnet is involved. They have come here, and we are going back to South Africa in July. It shows you that it’s a serious business. Hopefully, some agreements will be signed with Transnet in July. And so very soon, very serious work will begin in all sections of the line. That be the case, it is clear that we’re on the rail line to Kumasi,” he said.