Accra, Dec. 5, GNA - Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Ports and Railways, on Monday emphasised the need to re-engineer and expand the rail network system in the country.
Briefing an 11-Member Chinese delegation headed by Mr Cai Xiyang, Vice President of the First Survey and Design Institute of China Railways, Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi said the Government was committed to facilitate the transformation of Ghana Railways from its current fragmented, unprofitable state into focused, profitable commercial enterprise that was market driven and service oriented.
He said the expansion of the rail sector would impact positively on the country transportation system and ease the congestion on the roads especially during the peak period.
The Chinese delegation's visit was to undertake a three-week feasibility studies on the construction of rail network from Accra to Paga.
Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi said as a result of serious economic problems facing African countries, they were unable to make the required investments in railway infrastructure, therefore, railways were unable to make any meaningful contributions to their economies. In Ghana, for example, most investments made by the Government in railway infrastructure between 1983 and 1997 with World Bank Assistance was not sustained due to high cost involved with infrastructure renewal and maintenance.
The Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) currently has four per cent of freight and one per cent of passenger transport. He said lack of effective management in the Sector had resulted in the diversion to road transport of other traditional railway shipments like timber; cocoa; petroleum products and cement. "Similarly, GRCL has lost much of its long-distance passengers to road transport," he said.
The Minister pledged the Government's commitment to support the group in their feasibility with expenses being borne by the Chinese Government and assured the group that the Ghanaian Government was also working on the project with the Burkina Faso Government. Mr Xiyang called for collaboration among key stakeholders for the development of the railway sector.
He said after the studies the two governments would sign a memorandum of understanding for the commencement of actual work. 5 Dec. 05