Railway Minister under pressure

The Minster of Railway, Joe Ghartey, is under pressure, following persistent delays by the government to execute the Central Spine Expansion under the railway network expansion project.

Sampling views of some Ghanaians, Today observed that many of them were embittered with the sector minister for not commencing work on the railway project, which is considered as one of the most crucially ambitious projects of the Akufo-Addo-led government.

It forms part of the government’s plans to revive Ghana’s ailing railway industry.

Government earlier this year shortlisted some nine firms who submitted detailed technical and financial proposals for the development of the Central Spine Railway Line from Kumasi to Paga by the end of March 2018.

Following that development, the railway ministry is expected to partner its implementing agencies to ensure the realisation of the 595 km Greenfield project that will be running from Kumasi through Tamale to Paga.

The overall objective of the project is to develop a railway corridor between Kumasi and Paga to improve rail and logistics infrastructure, as part of an integrated transport network in Ghana.

The project, when completed, will seek to improve rail transport services for passengers and freight, thereby reducing the cost of transportation, especially in trade to and from the hinterlands and the three northern regions of Ghana, as well as to Burkina Faso and other Sahel countries.

The project which is also known in the Ghana Railways Master Plan as “Central Spine Expansion,” forms part of the development of the railway network expansion programme in the country.

The railway minister earlier this year informed Parliament that government had already selected a consortium of firms led by Messrs Vision Consult Limited of Ghana, in partnership with Messrs Gauff Ingenieure of Germany and Messrs ILF Consulting Engineers of Germany, after which a contract was signed in December 2017.

But, Today can report that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government is currently in its second year and not a single railway line has been fully developed, a situation if it remains which many believe will affect the political fortunes of the party in the 2020 election.

However, Today’s checks indicate that the ministry of railway has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to develop the existing railway and construct new ones on the basis of engineering, procurement and construction.

Today further gathered that the sector minster has weeks—if not months—to demonstrate his competence and efficiency in the execution of these projects, or else risks being reshuffled by the president who is bent on fulfilling his manifesto pledges which include a massive revamping of the country’s railway sector.

 

Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU

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