It has emerged that the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration authorised the sale of train coaches, belonging to Ghana Railways Corporation, to scrap dealers. They sold about 200 of the coaches as scraps and by the time the Akufo-Addo administration assumed office to stop the practice, only 27 coaches were available.
The Minister for Railways Development, Joe Ghartey, briefing President Akufo-Addo at Afienya on the final day of his Greater Accra Regional tour, said the railway workers assured him that they could put the coaches into better use once the government was determined to revive the railway sector.
He said as a result, the ministry, in collaboration with the Ghana Railways Authority, brought in some mechanics known in local parlance as ‘Fitters’ from Suame Magazine in Kumasi to join the railway team and they have since refurbished 10 out of the 27 coaches left.
He said five of the refurbished coaches were deployed to Takoradi while the rest are being used on the Accra-Tema route. It was all excitement when the President later visited Diesel Multi-Purpose Unit (DMU) of the Ghana Railways Authority (GRCA) where the 17 coaches were being refurbished.
An obviously excited President Akufo-Addo could not help dancing upon hearing the good news of the works taking place in the railway industry so far. He commended the minister and workers of the GRCL for their hard work, declaring an end to the era of selling state properties as scraps.
“I am very impressed to hear that the old policy of selling coaches as scrap has been itself scrapped and that this new policy of repairing our coach stock has already produced such positive results,” he said. He promised to do whatever it takes to revamp the railway industry, adding “the British left us a functioning railway system; we didn’t look after it, and we allowed it to deteriorate.”
President Akufo-Addo insisted that “for this part of the 21st century, a major responsibility is on you, on me, my successors, to rebuild the railway infrastructure in our country.”
Later Mr. Ghartey told President Akufo-Addo that the construction of the railway track was conceived as a “port to port project” in 2007 under the Kufuor era.
As a result, in 2007, a contract was signed for feasibility study to be conducted for a Tema to Buipe multimodal transport system via Akosombo. In furtherance of this, in November 2016, an agreement was approved by Parliament for a Tema to Akosombo railway line.
Reviewing The Project
The minister added that upon assumption of the Akufo-Addo government in January 2017, the agreement approved by Parliament was reviewed for a number of reasons.
The reasons included a possible effect on the Akosombo Dam, since the project involved drilling a tunnel through rock to the Akosombo Port. The tunnel, he said, was only going to be 60 metres away from the Akosombo Dam at one point.
Security concerns, in addition to the inability to create other associated economic activity around the rail terminal at the Akosombo Port, resulted in the review. “The line has been redesigned as the Tema to Mpakadan line. It now crosses the Volta River, and it is 10 kilometres more than the original length. The line is now 97 kilometres,” Mr. Ghartey added.
The minister told President Akufo-Addo that 28 kilometres of track has been laid, with the contractor giving an assurance that 40 more kilometres of track would be completed by the end of this year. He said the project, which will be completed in August of 2020, is a modern, standard gauge rail line.Sea Defence
The President later cut the sod for the commencement of work on the construction of a $70 million sea defence project at Prampram.
Addressing a gathering of chiefs and people of Ningo/Prampram before the sod cutting ceremony, he said the sea erosion challenges of the area is the reason for the project which is expected to be executed within a space of four years.
“Ningo/Prampram is potentially one of the most important tourist destinations in our country and it cannot be a proper tourist area if we don’t do something about the erosion. That is why we have made this decision. We are not just responding to the erosion but the contract also calls for the reclamation of the land and the establishment of a mini harbour so we give value to the entire project of sea erosion here,” he noted.
On his part, the acting President of the Ningo Traditional Council, Nene Atiapa III, asked for the separation of Ningo and Prampram into two separate districts. President Akufo-Addo, in response, indicated that the principle is that one can have two constituencies in one district but not the case of having two districts in one constituency.
“What we have to do is to encourage the Electoral Commission, who is responsible for the creation of constituencies, to create a constituency for Prampram and one for Ningo. Once that is done, then it is a straight forward matter for the President also to create the Ningo District and the Prampram District,” he added.