China can help revamp/extend rail network

The Director-General of the National Development Reform Commission of China, Wang Jianjun, in is the country with a delegation that includes financial experts to confer with government regarding revival of the country’s ailing railway sector.

The estimated cost required for revamping the country’s railway sector is US$7billion, and the Chinese – who have expertise in engineering, have offered to partner government in filling this crucial infrastructure deficit.

The Chinese have performed creditably in East Africa where they instrumental in constructing the trans-East African Rail line that spans three East African countries, and also built a modern rail line from Addis Ababa to Djibouti along the coast.

Thus, with such a pedigree this Paper believes the mission will be concluded successfully and sooner rather than later a Chinese firm will help construct the rail line from Accra to Kumasi, the Western Line from Takoradi to Kumasi, as well as the central spine from Kumasi to Paga.

The Chinese are dependable development partners, and we believe government will be able to craft an agreement sees them commence work on the rail sector in the shortest possible time. We are also led to understand that the delegation will take the opportunity to also inquire of government’s flagship industrialisation programme – the ‘One District, One Factory’ project – and see where they can offer some assistance.

Ghana’s ambassador to China, Edward Boateng, is optimistic about high-level talks between the two governments which have spanned the last 12 months. China has been a willing partner in Africa’s quest to bridge the huge infrastructure gap that affects many African states, but its appetite for Africa’s raw materials remains its guiding principle/motivation.

Should we be able to agree on mutual terms that benefit both states, we will be able to realise some of our most pressing needs like bridging the huge infrastructure gap that assails our economy. However, there must be clear limits – because if care is not taken, we will end up mortgaging our environment to marauding Chinese gold miners.

Our experience with illegal miners from China partnering Ghanaians to prospect for gold has left our water-bodies and the environment as a whole in dire straits. We need to be upfront with our Chinese officials and let them know where the limits are – and ensure without equivocation that they are respected.