Gov’t signs MoU with Russia for rail project

Russian Railway Company, Geo Services, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ghana’s Railway Ministry for the construction of gov’t proposed Accra-Paga railway line and other truck rail routes.

The project, which is expected to be on a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis, will open up the hinterlands, food growing, and mineral rich areas for accelerated economic growth.

A top Russian bank, with the banking of their government, and support from the African Export Import Bank is expected to fund the project.

The Chief Executive Office of Geo Service, Sergey Kamnev, speaking during a meeting with the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Flagstaff House in Accra, said after various deliberations with their Ghanaian counterparts, the Russian Federation decided to collaborate in the railway and energy sectors.

“Your Excellency, I am happy to inform you that, we have been in touch with your Railway Ministry for over a month now. Due Diligence has been conducted and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has also been signed.

Mr. President, with our own unofficial pre-feasibility conducted, we are assuring you that, we are going to use Ghanaians to manufacture everything in Ghana, from Executive wagons to bolt and knots. This is going to help us open at least, 20 factories in Ghana. It is going to employ over 40,000 Ghanaians to support your great vision coded, “One District, One Factory” project,” Mr. Kamnev said.

Ghana’s rail network that is currently operational, which is approximately 947 kilometres, is faced with an obsolete network and poor track infrastructure, resulting in the closure of greater part of the Western and Eastern lines and the entire Central line — leading to a high incidence of derailments that lead to loss of operational hours and damage to rolling stock.

Available data show that the rail sector commanded an over-70% market share of freight and passenger transport in the country during colonial days until the 1970s, and carried over 2 million tonnes of freight and 8 million passengers annually in the 1960s and 1970s.

However, due to inadequate funding for maintenance, the rail network started to deteriorate; leading to the diversion of freight traffic onto roads, exacerbating deterioration of the roads.

President Akufo-Addo upon assumption of office created the new Railway Development Ministry to carry out his administration’s promise of improving the railway network which he believes is the key to transforming the country’s economy.

The restructuring project would start with the reconstruction of the railways along the Eastern and Western lines. The entire project is estimated to cost US$ 21m.

Parliament has already approved a GH¢ 500 million budget for the ministry, more than the GH¢ 10 million which was allocated to the sector last year.

Mr. Kamnev also hinted of their quest to establish a Railway University in Ghana which will be the first of its kind in Africa.

“Your Excellency, the happiest thing is that, we have been mandated to open the first Railway University in Africa at the shores of Ghana. Fortunately, Ghana Railway Authority has the physical structures in Takoradi already, so we are going to renovate and upgrade it.

In view of this, we have had series of meetings with the Engineering Department of the University of Ghana, Legon and one of the best Railway Universities in Russia and will soon sign the Memorandum of Understanding”

He added that the Ministry of Education has been contacted to facilitate the universitiy’s establishment. “We have also contacted the Ministry of Education through the Deputy Minister, Barbara Ayisi, who has also motivated us a lot.

What we do not want to do is to bring people from Russia to work here. This University is going to help us transfer the technology as fast as possible for Ghanaians to build and operate their own railways efficiently.

Fast Facts

Total route length, Accra to Paga, 947km (593 miles)

Track length of 1,300km (807 miles)

Track gauge of 1.067 metres (3ft.6ins) with a maximum axle load of 16 tonnes

Except for the 30-km Takoradi-Manso section, which is double-track, the network is a single-track system of 1067 mm (3′ 6″) gauge (cape or narrow gauge)

Railway Network is divided into 3 main lines with branch lines. The main lines are:

Western Line: 340 km

Central Line: 240 km

Eastern Line: 330 km

Parts to be manufactured locally

20 factories to be constructed

40,000 jobs to be created

Source: B&FT

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