Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah has hinted that the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRADA) will start transporting manganese and other goods from Tarkwa to Takoradi by the end of this year.
He expressed the optimism that doing so will create income that will allow the government to expand the work to other regions in order to spur economic growth.
Mr Darko-Mensah gave the hint, when he visited the western rail line construction site on a working tour to assess the status of the 78-kilometer, standard gauge western rail line that would connect the Takoradi Port to Huni-Valley in the Western Region.
The visit was part of his monitoring program, which includes ongoing on-site supervision to guarantee that the project is completed quickly and by the target date.
It also allowed him to learn how the rehabilitation was progressing and what difficulties the contractor was encountering.
According to the Minister who was pleased with the work completed so far, the work will be continued to Nsuta.
He noted that the work was 25% completed, and expressed the certainty that the project would be completed in the allotted 42 months.
Hence, he declared that the government was committed to reviving the railway industry in order to stimulate commerce and industrial expansion, which would help to decrease poverty and spur prosperity.
The Site Manager, Mr Gideon Anderson, who briefed the Regional Minister and his delegation said the 78 km Western railway line from Manso to Huni-Valley includes the conversion of the narrow-gauge line between Kojokrom and Takoradi as well as an extension of the standard-gauge line into the recently expanded Takoradi Port,
He added that 12.7 kilometers of excavation and 11.5 kilometers of block stabilization were 14% of the total work and resulted in the destruction of 2.8 kilometers of an existing rail line.
“Exactly 12.7 km of clearing and excavation were completed; 11.57 km of rock stabilization were completed; and work on the road bridge is still proceeding. The Amante station, which is currently at the lentil level, is another project we are working on”, he stated.
Mr Ehud Beeri, Project Director for the Western Rail Line also lamented the lack of funding for the project and the delay in compensating property owners along the rail lines as the major challenges to the project.
He indicated that part of the project’s present difficulties may be linked to financial ambiguities, about which the Ghanaian government has been informed by our funders.
Another issue, he said was the failure to compensate those whose properties will be impacted by the construction, which is causing the project to be delayed.
Additionally, he said that galamsey activities around the building site were a concern for them since after they have cleared the land for rail construction, illegal miners use their heavy machinery to mine.
The Minister was accompanied by the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Tarkwa-Nsuaem, Benjamin Kessie; the Assistant Director of the Western Regional Coordinating Council (WRCC), Ebenezer Teye Quaynor; the Western Regional Police Commander, DCOP Osei Akoto; and the Western Regional NIB boss, Lord Nyartwi.
The others are Gloria M. Farmer, the Western Regional Customs Director, Charles Cobbinah, the Technical Advisor to the Regional Minister, and Ato Kwamena Otoo, an officer from the Information Service Department (ISD).
The railway terminal is one of the initiatives being carried out to reduce the strain associated with commodities transportation for people in the Western region and beyond.
When it is finished, the project will act as a key route for the transportation of bulk materials including manganese and bauxite.
Amandi Construction Limited is undertaking the project under a loan facility of 500 million Euros to build the standard gauge rail line from Takoradi to Huni-Valley.
In addition, the project includes the construction of stations, bridges, and culverts, as well as the supply of rolling stock.
The project is progressing, and works are currently being carried out in various locations, namely Benso and Tarkwa.
However, the work has encountered some obstacles, including the right of way (land compensation), the closure of the narrow gauge, which is currently blocking the work, and the completion of the design in the port and Nsuta.