Joe Ghartey (middle) being taking round the Akosombo Lake Port which links the Eastern and Volta regions respectively
MINISTER OF Railways, Joe Ghartey has indicated that the $398 million Tema-Akosombo railway project would be taking off in April 2017.
Mr. Ghartey made this known on Friday while addressing the media at Akosombo on an inspection tour.
The tour was to enable the Minister, contractors and consultants for the project find out where the rail line will end at Akosombo and also look out for a suitable place for the creation of an industrial hub within the area to ensure that the nation obtains great benefit from the project.
The sod-cutting ceremony for the railway will be done in March.
“We are about to start the Tema-Akosombo rail line. Part of the reason is that when the goods end at Akosombo they will go onto the water and move up to Buipe and then to Paga,” he said.
“But it’s our view that we shouldn’t have a situation where the goods just come here and that’s it,” Mr. Ghartey stated adding “we can create another economic activity here.”
“Rail is a means to an end. So we are saying that when it terminates here and joins the water we must be capable of creating some form of industrial park so that people can come and do business here,” he noted.
It would be recalled that Parliament in 2016 under the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) approved the budget for the project which is 84.8 km single standard gauge railway line from Tema to Akosombo on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis.
The project which forms the foundation of a planned multi-modal freight corridor, is a partnership between the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) and AFCONS Infrastructure Limited of India, with the latter as the financier.
The Minister announced that the project will be completed in 36 months vowing that he shall do all it takes to ensure the completion of the project on schedule.
He indicated also that government is considering the creation of a free zone at the Akosombo Lake Port.
DAILY GUIDE gathered that the project when completed will help expedite the movement of cargo from the Tema Port, which will in turn improve vessel turnaround time to make the port more competitive.
It is also expected to address the imbalance between transport modes for long distance transit and domestic freight from the south to the northern part of the country.
Works on the project will include the building of six rail stations at the Tema Port, Tema Industrial Area, Afienya, Doryumu/Kodiabe, Kpong and Akosombo.
Railway heads or terminals will also be constructed at Tema and Akosombo including the provision of operational facilities and loading equipment.
This is expected to ease the pressure on the road networks along the corridor
Furthermore, the project which is dear to the heart of the President Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, is equally expected to significantly reduce the cost of transportation of bulk commodities as well as offer an alternative and cheaper means of transport for passengers who ply that route.
BY Melvin Tarlue