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Ghana railways projects claims by governments beg for more answers

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Ghana RailwayRailways projects in Ghana are pet projects of successive governments – the frequency with which governments over time dust up and announce rehabilitation of the same projects is instructive.

It appears government after government for decades has been carrying the same file containing proposals and announcements of contracts on rehabilitating the country’s railway lines, but not enough questions are being asked.

Indeed, under the John Kufour government, there was a Ministry of Railways and Harbours, headed by Prof. Christopher Ekumfi-Ameyaw. He was also a Member of Parliament.

During his time as minister, the government announced a $1.6 billion project in August 2007.

At that time, the government stated that the first phase of the $1.64 billion project which involves the rehabilitation of the existing railway line from Takoradi to Kumasi will be completed in 18 months, while the construction of a new line from Hamile to Takoradi will be completed in five years time.

Prof. Ekumfi-Ameyaw said Ghana had signed an agreement for the said projects with a Dubai company called the Kampac Group.

The projects, then was known as the ‘Western Railway Project,’ and was said to be financed through a build-operate-and-transfer concession agreement with Kampac Group, after which the company will manage the country’s railways for the next 35 years after completion.

In 2010, when Dr. Kwabena Duffuor was Minister of Finance, he announced that Ghana was at the threshold of securing a $500-million loan from Goldman Sachs, to finance the revamping of the Western Railway Project. That was three years after the Kampac Group deal was signed.

This project, was also said to be part of the general infrastructural rehabilitation and rebuilding exercise by the government, and was expected to cost $1.4 billion, and was to be financed through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

In 2011 government announced a substantial improvement of the Nsawam-Kumasi and Ejisu-Paga railway project at a cost of $6-billion.

The Ejisu-Paga rail according to reports, is expected to pass through Tamale, from where a branch line will be constructed to Yendi.
Additionally, the government announced the commencement in April that year of a $990-million Accra-Tema railway extension project.

Two Chinese contractors, CMEC and CMC, were reported to have been engaged by the Ghana Railway Authority (GRA) to execute the project.

And then four years later, the government has announced another $1 billion railway rehabilitation project.

In April 2015, ghanabusinessnews.com carried a report about Ghana developing a proposal to seek $12 billion to $30 billion for a light rail line in Accra and an inter-city link in Kumasi.

The Minister of State responsible for Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), Rashid Pelpuo reportedly has appointed a New York investment bank, Chesterfield Faring to devise a request for proposals for PPP contracts for the projects.

And according to a GNA report published July 13, 2015, the Minister of Transport, Mrs Dzifa Attivor, has disclosed that re-development works on the Western Railway Line, which would stretch from Takoradi to Kumasi, including a branch line from Dunkwa to Awaso is estimated to cost $1 billion when completed.

This is the same railway project that was announced in 2007 – the Western Railway line from Takoradi to Kumasi.

Some things don’t add up.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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