The country's ambitious goal to build 4,000 kilometres of standard gauge railway lines soon is daunting.
'But a journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step and Rome as always was not built in a day. It is not about big leaps but rather small steps to add to the less than one per cent contribution of Railways to the transportation systems in the country,' Mr Yaw Owusu, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Railways Authority has said.
It has been proven throughout the world that the path to industrialization goes through an efficient railway system and the President's vision to revamp the sector has all the hallmarks of industrialization.
Mr Owusu was speaking at the stakeholder's engagement session for the Review of the 2020 Railway Master Plan here in Takoradi.
The 2020 Railway Master Plan is a revision of the 2013 Railway Master Plan which also calls for dialogue to solicit inputs and feedback.
Subsequently, the evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses, and identification of gaps in the 2020 Railway Master would be incorporated into the Railway Master Plan for 2025.
This would spur integrated industrial enterprises in Ghana; similar to what is happening in Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea.
Mr Owusu spoke about the newly constructed 97-kilometre Tema-Mpakadan, the project, part of the 800 kilometres railway line linking the Southern part of Ghana from Tema Port to the Northern part at Paga is near completion.
This project has a branch line from Bimbila to Sheini where large deposits of Iron Ore have been discovered.
The 80-kilometre railway line from Takoradi Port to Huni Valley and Dunkwa, Awaso and Nyinahin to benefit the Manganese mines at Nsuta and the Bauxite mines at Awaso and Nyinahin was to be completed by 2024.
The Chief Executive Officer said the six-kilometre double line from Kaase to Adum in Kumasi was also ongoing and these Standard Gauge lines have a price tag in excess of $ 1 billion.
He added that discussions were also far advanced to construct Accra to Nsawam, Achimota to Tema and Eduadin to Obuasi lines.
The CEO said one major short-term objective of the Ghana Railway Development Authority and for that matter, the Ministry of Railway Development was to complete the Takoradi Port to the Nsuta Manganese Mines by the end of 2024 to augment the production and transportation of Manganese which in turn will boost freight revenues for the Ghana Railway Company Limited.
He took the opportunity to thank President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo and, stakeholders for their unprecedented efforts to revamp the Railway sector.
Mr Owusu was also grateful to the Team of Engineers for their tireless efforts to make the 2020 Railway Master Plan a reality and to serve as a tool to guide Ghana's quest to rebuild the sector.
Mr Kwaku Asante Boateng, the Deputy Minister for Railway Development noted how the country was spending huge sums of dollars one kilometre and called on the engineers to help revise the cost and make good savings to help the government fulfil such a crucial project that would inure to the rapid development of the country.
Currently, a kilometre line costs five million dollars amounting to over 20 billion dollars to complete the planned 4000-kilometre worth of lines.
He said integrating the country's transportation systems had become crucial to improve the sector and always save the country's purse on road repairs.
Mr Boateng was saddened illegal mining activities continued to affect the hydrological and geometric processes and called on players in that business to be nationalistic enough.
He queried, 'Indeed, if Ghana is your motherhood land, then why the destruction of its natural resources which is having damming consequences on every sector and the people at large'.
Nana Kobena Nketiah V, the Omanhene of Essikado Traditional Area and advocate for the Railway sector called for a stronger willpower on the part of leadership to make the project a success.
'If in the 19th century, they could build the railways from Takoradi to Kumasi, then why are we lagging even in the midst of improved technology…we need progression in the Railways'.
Source: Ghana News Agency