The Ghana government has signed two separate contract agreements with the Chinese government to secure a $1 billion facility to revamp the country’s railways sector.
Mr Joe Ghartey, the Minister of Railways, said the two agreements, of $500 million each, were signed last week in China as a follow-up plan by Ghana to restore and improve rail transportation.
He said the Western and Eastern rail lines, totaling 930 km, and new lines from Tema to Akosombo, among others, would be constructed under the contracts.
Interacting with the media at the climax of the Annual Aboakyer Festival of the chiefs and people of the Effutu Traditional Area in Winneba, Mr Ghartey said President Akufo-Addo, during the February 2019 State of the Nation Address, mentioned the contract agreement of $1 billion to improve the railways sector.
Mr Ghartey said the railways sector was dead when government assumed office in 2016, where workers were not paid for over six months.
He said after paying them their salary arrears, he worked to increase their salaries by 35 per cent, which was approved by the government.
Mr Ghartey urged the workers to work hard to wean them off government’s subvention and generate their own income to enable them to enjoy better remuneration as other sectors were enjoying.
He said under President Akufo-Addo, 30 new trains have been procured, with the speed of 160 km per hour, compared to the previous 120 km per hour, and would soon arrive in the country.
He said the procurement of the modern trains with automated signals would cost the Government several millions of dollars to replace the outmoded ones.
He said 947 km railway lines built during Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s administration had reduced to 100 km and that with the effective strategic plans put in place by the President Akufo-Addo’s Government, more than 2,000 km lines would be built within eight years.
Mr Ghartey said the Accra-Tema and Accra-Nsawam rail lines had been rehabilitated to ease transportation of workers and traders.
It would also pave the way for the construction of new railway lines from Dunkwa to Mankranso, which forms part of the western railway lines.
On the Aboakyer Festival the Minister commended Neenyi Ghartey VII, the Omanhene of Effutu, and the people for a peaceful festival and appealed to them to continue to live in peace to promote the development of the area.
He called on the youth to study hard, respect their parents and obey God’s commandment so as to live long and prosper.