The Minister of Railways Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, has engaged some chiefs, Municipal and District Chief Executives and other key stakeholders in the Volta Region to seek their support for the construction of the Ghana-Burkina Faso railway project.
The railway project, which passes through the Volta Region, stretches from the Tema Port through Ho, Hohoe, Bimbilla, and Yendi through to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.
The minister announced that feasibility studies on the construction was yet to commence to provide the necessary details for the project.
Two consultants contracted for the feasibility studies from Ghana and Italy were expected to complete their technical work in eight months.
The ministry, therefore, expects that the technical work will be completed by September this year to pave the way for real construction works to begin.
Mr Ghartey said the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) railway lines would be about 1,300 kilometre stretch, which would bring about major infrastructural projects in the region.
Construction of the railway system, he noted, was the biggest infrastructure project that Ghana had undertaken since independence, adding that the Accra-Ouagadougou stretch would open up the eastern part of the country as it would be a catalyst for economic development in the areas fortunate to have the railways.
Mr Ghartey, however, called for support from the traditional rulers and stakeholders and urged them to be involved in the railway project because it was a way to increase trade and investments in the region.
Need for land
He dis]closed that 12 companies had so far been shortlisted out of 16 that applied for the job and that the ministry was currently receiving proposals from the companies to evaluate their level of expertise and financial capabilities to undertake the project.
The chiefs and the people, Mr Ghartey said, should be willing to support the ministry with land because without that the project could not commence.
"We are blessed this is passing through the region, we should look at what is best for the nation and not for personal interests" he said.
Touching on the issue of compensation for those who will give out land, the minister indicated that the package would be factored into the project and therefore those who might lose their land to the project would be adequately compensated.
He said despite the passion and the urgency involved in the project, government would ensure that quality service was delivered.
"I am here to seek your blessing for the project. I am not promising that the project will start tomorrow because we have to follow due process but with your support, we will be able to get a strategic investor after the feasibility studies to commence the construction", he said.
According to the minister, the railway lines would not replace the eastern corridor road but rather complement government’s effort to speed up economic development for the people.
"We have to do something that will stand the test of time and we must understand that the railway is for the people". he added.
The acting President of the Awudome Traditional Council, Togbui Adzesi Dzaga, on behalf of the chiefs, assured government of their support with a hope to see railway in the region before the 2020 elections.
The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, urged the ministry to do its best to make the railway system a reality in the region.