Gov’t seeks investors for Eastern Railway and Boankra projects

Government is seeking to raise an estimated US$1.8billion to develop the Eastern Railway Line
to modern standards, to aid freight from Tema Port to an inland port at Boankra, near Kumasi.

It is also seeking to raise an estimated US$600million for the inland port project, which has stalled for years.

Reconstruction of the Eastern Railway Line will be executed under a public-private partnership arrangement, on a ‘build, operate and transfer’ basis.

Audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has been appointed transaction adviser for the project, which includes financing, development and operation of the 330km line.

The work also involves provision of rolling-stock, station upgrades, and signalling and communication equipment.

 

Joe Ghartey

At a “market sounding event” in Accra, Minister of Railway Development Joe Ghartey told investors, project developers, financial institutions, shipping lines, and freight forwarders as well as policymakers that the project will provide an efficient and safer alternative to the country’s already-congested road network.

The event was aimed at determining the market interest and preferences for specific private sector participation models for the proposed projects, and to understand the private sector’s key considerations regarding its potential involvement in the projects.

“Upon completion, it will as well enhance the country’s role as a transit corridor to landlocked neighbouring countries, and feed traffic from other modes of transport to the inland port,” Joe Ghartey said.

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“The project will also enhance socio-economic and commercial development in the Ashanti Region and the Eastern Corridor; and improve services to customers and reduce the cost of transport, especially in trade, to and from the hinterland and Northern Regions of Ghana.

“Government envisages constructing the two projects through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement,’’ Mr. Ghartey said.

Ghana’s existing railway network, built during the colonial period, is located in the Southern
part of the country and is approximately 940km long. The network is divided into three main lines with supporting branch lines, namely Western Line: 340 km – Sekondi/Takoradi to Kumasi with branch lines to Prestea and Awaso; Central Line: 240 km – Huni Valley to Kotoku, with a branch line to Kade; and Eastern Line: 360 km – Accra to Kumasi with branch lines to Tema and Shai Hills.

The lines are single track rail, narrow gauge of 1.067mm (3 ft. 6), and were used for both passenger and freight traffic.

Currently, a significant proportion of the railway network is not operational. The only sections
operational are the Accra-Nsawam and Accra-Tema sections of the Eastern Line; and Awaso to Dunkwa and to Takoradi on the Western line.

“The Eastern Railway Line is currently virtually non-operational, and the rail tracks are in a deplorable state. The tracks are worn out, the wooden sleepers are rotten, and the track ballast cushions are thin. Beyond Nsawam, most of the tracks have either been removed or stolen,” the minister stated.

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The existing Eastern Railway Line was built in 1923, using narrow gauge standards, and was designed for an axle-load limit of 13 tonnes.

The Boankra Inland Port, on the other hand, is strategically located near Kumasi; it was initiated in 1990 by the Ghana Ports and Habours Authority and Ghana Standards Authority in order to create an inland extension to the Tema Port.

Currently, the Boankra Inland Port has been partially developed, with an administration block, access roads and utility connections. Other plans for further development of the inland port include an Inland Container Depot; port administration, shippers and freight forwarders offices; warehouses and commercial buildings.

The inland port will also require the development of Customs coordination protocols, and Customs clearance procedures and controls.

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