The Ghana Government and a Ghanaian-led consortium last Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to redesign and rehabilitate the existing 750-kilometre western rail lines.
The project will also involve the construction of a new 550-kilometre line from Takoradi in the Western Region, through Bole to Hamile on the Burkina Faso Border. Actual work on the project, estimated to cost about 1.5 billion dollars, would begin once the consortium and government conclude discussions and Parliament gives its approval to the deal.
Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister for Ports, Harbours and Railways and Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister for Land, Forestry and Mines signed the MoU on behalf of government while Mr Charles Ampofo, Chairman, KAMPAC Oil, initialled on behalf of the consortium.
Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi said the rehabilitation and construction of the new lines by the consortium was on build, operate and transfer basis, adding it was the first time that such an offer had been made since government started the search for partners to undertake the project some three years ago.
A good railway system, he said, would take the pressure off the roads, especially in carting goods to the country's land-locked neighbours and in addition help in the exploitation of the country's mineral resources.
Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi said the MoU was just an expression of interest and a preparatory step for the main task ahead, which would only begin after satisfactory outcomes had been reached during discussions and the necessary due diligence on the background of the consortium were carried out.
Prof Fobih said the agreement was not only to the benefit of the rail sector but would also assist in exploitation of bulk minerals such as bauxite.
Mr Charles Ampofo, leader of the consortium, asked Ghanaians to support the project as it had the potential to enhance national development through the creation of jobs. It is estimated that the project would generate 20,000 jobs.
He said the consortium would apply the latest technology to breathe new life into the railway system and also ensure that the construction could support present and future traffic, whose levels, speed and axle load could increase from year to year.
Mr Ampofo gave the assurance that there would be a maintenance programme for the sustained running of the project and to minimise any deficiencies that might occur during the life of the new railway system.
He said an efficient transportation system would promote the possible international links with neighbouring countries and increase the rapid export of the country's commodities such as cocoa, timber and bulk minerals.