Government says it will totally revamp the railway sector in two years. This will include the Western corridor rail line linking to Ivory Coast.
But how feasible is this dream of constructing over 500-kilometre rail system in less than two years?
Its been promises after promises, at first; it was the 2013 master plan by the NDC government.
The master plan proposed the construction of about 407 kilometres of new railway network across the country
The six-phase project also sought to rehabilitate existing rail lines, the extension of the central corridor, as well as the extension of the trans-ECOWAS line.
The extension of both the western and eastern corridor rail lines was also captured in the master plan.
This beautifully drafted plan was never realized, leaving the country’s rail sector in a sorry state.
Fast forward to 2017, the NPP lead government says it has what it takes to transform the railway sector under the 2020 rail sector transformation agenda.
Minister for Railway Development Joe Ghartey said the transformation process has already begun.
“I have already started seeing the transformation. The managing director of the Ghana railway company has told me that in his 35 years in the rail sector, he has never seen a deal like what we concluded in South Africa.
There has never been an occasion that so many types of equipment have been brought in at the same time. 110 Wagons? No Way! he has never seen it. He is in South Africa and I have told him if he doesn’t complete the deal, he shouldn’t come back to Ghana,” Mr, Ghartey said.
According to the Railways Minister, Joe Ghartey, Ghana is in talks with South Africa’s leading railway and ports company, Transnet International Holdings, to supply 110 wagons to the Ghana Railway Company Limited
The supply would include 22 coaches, eight locomotives; six for freight to power the wagons, two for passenger service, and another two vans with first-class kitchens.
Mr Ghartey said, “South Africa wants to enter a long-term partnership with the Ghana railway company, they want to do so many things with Ghana but we have told them we don’t have money; we will sit down with them to ensure we can pay back. I can assure you that we can’t pay or break our back.”
His deputy, Andy Appiah Kubi has also been talking tough.
He said, “Very soon we will commission a monthly railway newspaper and the draft is in my office; so by the end of next month we will launch the first ever railway journal.
The Ghana Railway School at Essikado, has also signed an MOU with the George Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, to train personnel for the industry,” Mr Appiah Kubi stated.
The 2020 transformation agenda would mean the construction of a 339-kilometre Western corridor project linking Takoradi and Kumasi, then the eastern corridor 218 kilometres.
Aside from the 10 wagons coming from South Africa, a joint evaluation committee on the Accra- Ouagadougou railway project has received 15 proposals from companies interested in financing the project.
From the rail lines, the university, to the newspaper, the railway Ministry seems to have a lot on its table; and all these are expected to be done in just two years.
Deputy Railway Development Minister, Andy Appiah Kubi re-emphasized government’s commitment to the 2020 transformation agenda.
He said, by the end of 2020, the government would have made significant progress in the railway sector.
“By the end of our term in 2020, construction and renovation of existing facilities would have been at an advanced stage to commission [so as] to admit students from Ghana and other parts of Africa.
Despite the pessimism from a section of the public, Mr Appiah Kubi says the Ministry is on track to achieving these goals.
“Come back to us next year and you won’t meet us in conference rooms like this; you will meet us on project site,” he added.