Accra, Dec. 22, GNA - Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister for Ports, Harbours and Railways, on Wednesday cut the sod at Baatsona to begin rehabilitation works on portions of the Accra-Tema Railway Project.
The Project would be funded with a five million dollars loan from Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) contracted by the Government.
The Project would include construction of two big culverts at Baatsona, rehabilitation of railway tracks, installation of signal and telecommunication system, rehabilitation of 24 coaches and refurbishment of stations.
Messers David Walter Limited, Engineers and workers of the Ghana Railway Company Limited would execute the Project, which would take 10 months to complete.
The Project when executed would facilitate the import and export trade by the land-locked countries such as Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, which have expressed interest to use Ghana's ports and encourage bulk haulage of petroleum products from the South to the North of the country.
It would also improve mass transportation of large numbers of people, who live in the Accra -Tema Metropolitan Area.
It is also expected to improve and increase container traffic by rail, particularly with the construction of the Boankra Inland Port in Kumasi.
Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi noted that railway development required a lot of funds and that was why the Government was pursuing a policy of public and private participation in rail transport through concession.
"The rationale behind this policy is to attract private sector resources to revamp the railway for it to be a competitive mode and with the requisite capacity to improve competition and thereby improve upon service delivery."
The Minister announced that the Ministry would in the second week of January begin negotiations with potential investors.
"It is the hope of the Ministry and for that matter the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government that the concession will bring in the required capital injection and managerial capabilities to revitalise and revamp the Railway Sector."
The Minister announced that a portion of the Accra to Kumasi railroad would also be rehabilitated.
Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said in the urban areas, particularly within the Accra-Tema Metropolitan Area, which has a population of about 2.9 million people, there was serious traffic congestion on its arterial roads.
"This has negative impact on the economic life of the two cities. There is, therefore, the need to introduce a rail-based mass transportation within the Metropolis to complement the existing and planned road based transport system."
The Minister pointed out that due to the neglect and lack of financial resources, the Accra-Tema rail was defunct and there was sand winning by some contractors along the lines.
"Most of the rails and sleepers have been stolen, not to mention the numerous encroachment by developers along the line."
Mr Joseph Samuel Appiah, Board Chairman, Ghana Railway Company Limited, said the Accra-Tema railway line constructed 50 years ago had suffered a major defect after a heavy down pour in 1996.
He said the commencement of the project marked an important milestone in the Railway Sector, adding, it was going to enhance railway operations and swift movement of persons and goods.
He pledged the Company's determination to provide efficient, effective and reliable services to customers. 22 Dec. 04