President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has cut the sod for the construction works to begin on the €500 million Manso-Huni Valley section of the Western Railway.
Describing it as the highest single investment in the country’s railway development since independence, President Akufo-Addo said the project was expected to be completed within 42 months.
Addressing the gathering at Manso, in the Amenfi Central District on Tuesday, the President said one of the great tragedies of Ghana’s post-colonial era was allowing its railway infrastructure, developed under colonial rule, to deteriorate completely.
According to him, out of the 947km colonial narrow-gauge rail network bequeathed by the colonialists, barely 10% is operational.
He noted that the only addition to the network is the 15km narrow gauge railway line, built between 2012 and 2017, from Sekondi to Takoradi via Kojokrom.
President Akufo-Addo noted that upon his assumption of office in January 2017, he was determined to change this statistic, because of his belief that an efficient railway system is critical to the progress and prosperity of the country, the reason why he re-established the Ministry of Railways Development.
“The ground-breaking…ceremony is an integral part of the series of infrastructural projects lined up to expand the provision of railway services. Key amongst the rail projects, currently ongoing, are the development of a new standard gauge railway line between the Port of Tema and Mpakadan in the Asuogyaman District of the Eastern Region. This project has reached an advanced stage of completion, and will soon be handed over to Government for operation,” the President said.
He noted also that the development of the Western Railway Line is on course, with the 22-kilometre section of the line from Kojokrom to Manso proceeding steadily, and scheduled for completion before the end of this year.
“I am delighted that, even before the completion of this section, I am here today to cut the sod for work to commence officially on the continuation of construction works for the development of the line from Manso to Huni Valley, which covers some seventy kilometres (70km),” President Akufo-Addo added.
The Manso to Huni Valley project includes the conversion of dual gauge tracks, between Takoradi and Kojokrom, from narrow gauge to standard gauge. The construction of an 8km standard gauge rail line within the Takoradi port to the Takoradi station to have a continuous standard gauge connection from the Port to the Nsuta Bauxite Mining Site and other mines, will help facilitate the haulage and export of minerals.
These projects, amongst several others in the pipeline, he said, “confirm the depth of commitment of my government to establishing a modern railway system in our nation. The government is committed to securing additional resources to complete the expansion of the new standard gauge rail network in the country, in line with the Railway Master Plan.”
President Akufo-Addo commended the Ministry of Railways Development, the Board, Management and Staff of the Ghana Railway Development Authority, and the Ministry of Finance for collaborating to raise the funds required for the implementation of the project.
The President also addressed a growing phenomenon that is retarding the progress and efforts of the government in the railway sector.
“Apart from the activities of illegal mining, which is harming the development of the right-of-way, particularly within the corridors of Manso and Amantin in the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality, leading to the modification of project designs and higher construction costs, some unpatriotic saboteurs in our communities have chosen to steal components of the railway system, including the tracks. This is exceptionally worrying, and of great concern to the rest of us Ghanaians,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo, thus, sounded a strong word of warning to individuals perpetuating these criminal acts that the law will take its course, and the appropriate sanctions and punishment will be duly meted out to offenders.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD