Consultants working on the 1,178 kilometre West Coast High Speed rail for the West African sub region Sunday presented technical details of the project to representatives of the beneficiary countries in Accra.
The work, which has received the sanction of ECOWAS, will start from Nigeria through Benin, Togo, Ghana and end in Cote d I’viore.
The consultants of the project, HammcoBTB Engineering International Incorporated of Canada, met with representatives from Ghana, Benin, Togo, Cote I’dviore and Nigeria to brief them on the extent of work.
Ghana has already expressed interest, but it is left with the commitment from the governments of Benin, Cote d’Iviore and Nigeria for the commencement of work.
Mr Bimbo Siynbo of HammcoBTB said with a population of over 300 million people and a road network of 6.1 million kilometres, the sub-region needed the rail line to ensure easy movement of its people and goods to accelerate sub-regional development and integration.
He said most of the roads in the sub region were in bad shape and bedevilled with blockages at the various international points, a situation that had hampered smooth intra trading among the people of West Africa.
About the cost of the projects, he hinted that although it would be on the basis of public-private project, the consultants had received interest from the various private sector banks to provide the funding.
Mr Siynbo said his outfit was aware that the project was in the region of one per cent of the total gross domestic product of the entire West Africa, an amount which was even bigger than the entire national budget of some of the countries within the region.
For his part, the Head of Infrastructure for ECOWAS, Mr Kagnini Gogoua, stated that just as through private initiatives it was able to establish ECOBANK, Asky Airline and ECOMARINE, it would provide the needed support for the realisation of the vision.
He said already heads of state of the region in their new vision of accelerated development through integration had started work on the construction of a West African coastal road, and that they also had a vision for the rail line.
A Ghanaian representative of MammcoBTB, Mr Divine Dzegbla, urged the technical people at the meeting to be well informed in order to get their governments approval at the yet to be organised grand summit of Transport Ministers in West Africa for the commencement of the project.
He commended Ghana’s Minister of Transportation for her singular role and support towards the realisation of the project.
By Donald Ato Dapatem, Accra