Tema-Akosombo railway : GSA eyes increase transit trade, extended road life

Officials inspecting the Tema-Akosombo railway project

The Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) is eyeing an increase in transit trade with neighbouring landlocked countries – Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger – with construction of the Tema-Akosombo railway project.

According to Fred Asiedu-Dartey, Head of Freight and Logistics at the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), completing the railway project will not only boost transit trade but also extend the life-span of roads leading to the northern part country, as many goods will be expeditiously transported by rail.

The project, which is a component of the 1,000km Ghana-Burkina railway interconnectivity project, will fast-track key requirements of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the GSA and Shippers’ Councils of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to facilitate inter-country trade.

Mr. Asiedu-Dartey added that the project will also relatively reduce the cost of transportation for goods, and serve the interests of transit shippers and traders in the northern part of the country. He said this during a tour to monitor the railway project’s state of progress last week by Port Infrastructure Committee (PIC) members of the GSA’s Governing Board.

The project falls in line with the GSA’s vision of ensuring a quick, safe and reliable delivery of import and export cargo by all modes of transport at an optimum cost for shippers in Ghana.

The 97km railway stretches from Tema to Mpakadan, and is being funded by the Indian EXIMBANK at US$447million.

The project, which comes with the construction of six passenger stations and a freight terminal in the Tema Port, is part of the national railway plan to construct over 4,500km of railways across the country.

Sandra Opoku, Director of Tema Port – who is also a member of the Board of GSA, said constructing the Tema-Akosombo railway will significantly reduce the movement of cargo by road, particularly to northern parts of the country.

With the Tema Port alone handling 17 million metric tonnes of cargo in 2019, which was transported by road to various destinations, completion of the railway project will be a game changer. The construction, she said, will reduce pressure on the roads and address other axle-load-related challenges associated with the transportation of goods to landlocked countries.

According to Asim Kumar Gupta, Head of Legal and Contract Management of AFCONS Infrastructure Limited – contractor for the project, 75km of the railway has been completed but final completion is scheduled for July 2021.

Dr. Michael Adjei-Anyetei, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) and member of the PIC, said plans are far advanced for Ghana to take over management of the project after its completion.

He disclosed that parliament has given approval to use US$230million for the purchase of rolling stock – vehicles that move on a railway, including both powered and unpowered vehicles such as locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons.

The tour by PIC members took them to the office and factory of AFCONS Infrastructure Limited, the site for construction of a 300-metre bridge across the Volta River – final site of the railway project at Mpakadan.

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