Out of a total 947 kilometres length of rail, only 120 kilometres were operational in 2017, Deputy Minister for Railways Development Kweku Agyenim Boateng has revealed.
Addressing Parliament when he appeared on the floor to answer questions on steps being taken by the ministry to ensure safety on the country’s rail network, he said the operational stretches are Takoradi to Nsuta on the Western line, as well as Accra to Tema and Accra to Nsawam on the Eastern line.
Government is keen to revamping the country’s railway system by retraining all workers of the company to ensure modern operational standards.
With the inception of freight services from Nsuta to Takoradi for hauling manganese, the remaining sections of the rail network are not operational due to tracks track’s poor state.
To ensure passenger comfort and safety, over 50 track-workers have been engaged by the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) to rehabilitate the Accra-Nsawam section of the line [Eastern line], the minister noted.
Furthermore, GRCL is in the process of securing ballast and treated wooden sleepers [railroad ties] to be used in rehabilitation works to bring the line back to good operating standards.
Similarly, on the Western line GRCL has intensified its ongoing rehabilitation of the track from Nsuta to Tarkwa.
“It is anticipated that the ongoing track-rehabilitation work on the two lines will be completed by the first quarter of 2018 for efficient train operations to commence.”
The Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) and GRCL are in the process of installing additional level-crossing mechanisms at major rail road intersections to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety.
Old coaches and locomotives are being refurbished in order to ensure passenger safety before the reintroduction of passenger services; spare-parts for the coaches have also been procured, and currently 15 coaches are being refurbished.
“We will not reintroduce the service until the tracks and coaches are declared safe by the government regulator [GRDA].”
The Railway Act 2008, Act 779, has several provisions in relation to the safety of railway service operations.
Mr. Agyenim Boateng emphasised that the ministry has directed the GRDA to, as a matter of urgency, build its capacity to exercise its full power and authority as a regulator of the sector, to enable it ensure the safety of all aspects of rail service.
He added that government is collaborating with the University of Mines and Technology (UMAT) to retool and retrain workers of GRCL to improve their capacity and build a good safety culture.
As a policy, all new railway construction is expected to be standard-gauge with engineering designs that have a high level of safety.