Construction of the Manso-Huni Valley rail section, which is part of the Takoradi – Kumasi Standard Gauge (Western) Railway, has begun. This comes following a groundbreaking ceremony officiated by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The €500 million project is expected to be concluded in 42 months. It was described by the head of state as the highest single investment in the country’s railway development since independence.
Scope of the Manso-Huni Valley rail section construction
The project includes the conversion of dual gauge tracks, between Takoradi and Kojokrom, from narrow gauge to standard gauge. It also involves the construction of a new eight-kilometer standard gauge rail line from the Takoradi port to the Takoradi station. This will facilitate a continuous standard gauge connection from the Port to the Nsuta Bauxite Mining Site and other mines. This connection will subsequently help facilitate the haulage and export of minerals.
The President stated that allowing the country’s railway infrastructure to deteriorate, was one of the country’s post-colonial era’s greatest tragedies. He revealed that 10% of the 947km colonial narrow-gauge rail network left by the colonialists is barely operational.
Commitment to improving the country’s rail system
The only addition to the network according to Akufo-Addo is the 15km narrow-gauge railway line, from Sekondi to Takoradi through Kojokrom. This was build built between 2012 and 2017. Upon President Akufo-Addo’s assumption of office in January 2017, he stated that he was aiming to change the statistic.
The president believes that an efficient rail system is vital for the country’s progress and prosperity. That is why he re-established the Ministry of Railways Development. Also, he stated that the development of a new standard gauge rail line between the Tema port and Mpakadan is key among the currently ongoing projects.
Ghana plans to reconstruct the Western Rail line
The government of Ghana has plans to reconstruct the Western Rail line which will begin from Takoradi all the way to Kumasi. The project will also include a branch rail line that will begin from Dunkwa stretching to Awaso. The Western Rail Line when completed will run from Takoradi Port to Kumasi with a branch line from Dunkwa to Awaso and cover a distance of 339 kilometers
Speaking at the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) forum, the Transport Minister, Mrs. Dzifa Attivor, confirmed that the project completion has been estimated to cost US$1bn. She further explained that the purpose of the project is to modernize the Western Rail line whereby modern rail stations, ancillary facilities, and terminals will be introduced to offer smooth, timely, and safe services.
However, 38 stations along with 2 terminals and other facilities will undergo renovation courtesy of the Western Rail line reconstruction project. Furthermore, over 200 bridges and culverts will also undergo reconstruction given that a provision of a more realistic total estimation cost will be conducted.
State-of-art telecommunication and signaling will also be put in place along with the reconstruction of the workshops and running sheds among other facilities. The Western Rail project will be executed under the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA), whereby the project’s preliminary designs will offer a transparent platform for private sector investors eyeing the project.
Initially, the design of the Western Line was primarily initiated by an Italian consultant company known as Messrs Team Engineering SpA. The company was funded by the government of Ghana.
Ghana’s railway sector is currently facing challenges through land encroachment and land destruction brought about by the country’s illegal miners, however, the rail systems will fully be implemented in line with the country’s Railway Master Plan as well as protecting the land set aside for the railway sector.
Ghana approves US $230m for railway redevelopment project
The government of Ghana has approved US $230m for the purchase of several rolling stocks as part of the railway redevelopment project being undertaken by the country. Mr Joe Ghartey, the Minister of Railways Development confirmed the reports and said that the procurement of the 30 rolling stocks would be the largest amount of stocks brought at a single time into the country since 1898.
The Minister stated that they didn’t want a scenario whereby after completing the rail lines, they had no trains to mount on them thereby even jeopardizing the rail line testing which is very crucial.
The stocks numbering are to be mounted on the new rail lines currently under construction and will include; locomotives, carriages, railroad cars as well as wagons to ensure seamless operations.
Mr Joe Ghartey however noted that though the approval has been granted, an order for the stocks was yet to be placed because some consultants had been engaged to look at the van’s specifications that are suitable for the country.
Ghartey also confirmed that the rehabilitation of the 56 km existing narrow gauge from Kojokrom to Tarkwa through Nsuta was underway and it was being undertaken by workers of the Ghana Railway Company.
Passenger rail services
The main objective of the project was to restore passenger rail services from Tarkwa to Takoradi as well as haulage of manganese from Nsuta to the Takoradi Port. He further explained that a new standard gauge was being constructed in sections with Amandi Holdings Company constructing 5km from Kojokrom-Eshiem and 17 km from Eshiem to Manso and beyond.
Mr Ghartey further noted that China Railway Wuju Corporation was undertaking the construction of the 97 km Tarkwa- Dunkwa stretch with an extension from Dunkwa to Awaso and Kumasi. He said the contract for the Eshiem-Manso new standard lines was signed in February last year subject to three conditions precedent which was satisfied after negotiations.
The Minister said funding arrangements were ongoing with China Development Bank for US $1bn credit facility out of which US $500m has been earmarked for the western line.
Ghana to construct a new railway hub in Dunkwa town
The government of Ghana has earmarked the town of Dunkwa-on-Offin for the development of a new railway hub.
The plans were revealed by Minister for Railway Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, who led an international team of railway experts to the Dunkwa Traditional Council and the Dunkwa Omanhene to discuss the implementation of the President’s vision of building a modern railway network across the country.
Dunkwa railway hub
According to the Minister, Dunkwa-on-Offin, a town located in the upper Denkyra, was selected as it is a major junction on the country’s Western Line. The development contract was awarded to China Wuju Group Corporation (also known as China Railway No. 5 Engineering Group Co. Ltd).
The project is set to become a major new railway hub that will host a number of facilities such as maintenance and repair centres, training centres, locomotive depots, and freight operation areas among other modern ancillaries.
Standard Gauge Western line
President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has allocated the extra US $1bn to the development of the country’s new railway network and US $500m of this has been committed to the construction of the Western Line.
The Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) and China Railway Wuju Group Corporation signed an agreement in May 2019 for the continuation of the development of the new Standard Gauge Western line, which will have both passenger and freight services.
Under this agreement, the Manso through Tarkwa to Dunkwa section of the line will be developed at a length of approximately 100km. Upon completion, the project will directly employ over 3,000 men and women in the local area.
Mr Ghartey also suggested that a steering committee made up of the Traditional Authorities, Ministry, agencies and contractors be formed to oversee the smooth implementation of the project.
Ghana signs rail revitalisation agreement
The signing ceremony was led by Dr Popo Molefe and witnessed by the President of Ghana Nana Akufo Addo and the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa. The agreement is a culmination of a process which began in 2018 with a signing of a Joint Statement of Intent between Ghana’s Minister of Railways Development, Joe Ghartey and South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan.
Rail sector in Ghana
The deal is expected to full operation of Ghana’s narrow gauge rail line between Takoradi and Tarkwa. The partnership is also expected to ultimately result in a shift of bulk cargo from road to rail and contribute to a reduction in Ghana’s logistics costs.
The project will be implemented in stages. Phase one involves rehabilitation and maintenance of the line, refurbishment and maintenance of existing rolling stock, locomotives and wagons at the same time while supplying additional rolling stock.
Ghana’s rail sector has been in shambles for a long time now. Successive governments have pledged to revamp the sector and get it working again. The country has 947 kilometres of track inherited from the colonial era, with two lines, the western line and the eastern line. The Western line runs from Takoradi through Kojokrom to Kumasi, while the Eastern line runs from Tema-Accra through Achimota, Nsawam through to Kumasi.
The Accra-Nsawam train which was a major transport means for most commuters along that route has been put on hold since 2017. This, per the ruling government, was to help revamp the rail lines which were deteriorated and posed danger to commuters. The rail lines are almost complete, and test runs have begun, but as it stands, there is just one functioning train operating in the entire country.
Ghana signs contract for construction of a section of Western Rail line
The government of Ghana through the states Railways Development Authority (GRDA) has recently signed an agreement for the construction of a 51km-long standard gauge railway line from Eduadin to Obuasi in the Ashanti Region, which is a section of the Western Rail line that runs from the Takoradi Port to Kumasi with a branch line from Dunkwa to Awaso.
The US$ 419M contract was signed with India-based AFCONS Infrastructure Limited – A Shapoorji Pallonji Group Company, which is undertaking the construction works of the Tema-Mpakadan rail line. In addition to the construction of the railway line under the new agreement/contract, Afcon will also construct six railway stations and pedestrian footbridges along the route.
The project is expected to be delivered within a period of 36 months from the day the construction works commence.
Kumasi-Obuasi Standard Gauge Railway
On the other hand, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched the construction of the 83.5 kilometres Kumasi to Obuasi standard gauge railway line which also forms a part of the Western Rail line.
Expected to revive the industrial town of Kaase, the project will be carried out by David Walter Limited. The Board Chairman of the company, Mr. David Asante, expressed his gratitude to the government of the West African country for trusting their capability and professionalism and awarding the contract to his company.
He also called for more consideration from the government for indigenous companies and the promotion of the private sector.
Construction of the Kumasi-Obuasi Standard Gauge Railway in Ghana is yet to start
The construction works of the Kumasi-Obuasi Standard Gauge Railway which forms a part of the new Takoradi – Kumasi (Western) Line are yet to start eight months now since Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana broke grounds for the start of the implementation of the 83.5 kilometers project.
This is a result of the widespread encroachment on lands earmarked for the railway redevelopment. According to reports, the most affected area is the regional capital, Kumasi, where the first phase of the Kumasi-Obuasi Standard Gauge Railway Project was to be undertaken between Adum and Kaase, a distance of six kilometers.
Some of the structures that have found their way onto the proposed railway lines include residential homes, churches, cold stores, and warehouses. Also at Adum, the center of the city, what used to be the railway station and adjoining lands are now occupied by a market where food items are sold, mostly in dilapidated wooden structures.
Resolving the situation
The Ghana Railways Development Authority (GRDA) led by the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Yaw Owusu has resorted to dialogue with the encroachers and other people affected by the project to get them to vacate the land for the contractor to start the works.
Mr. Owusu said the sector Minister, Mr. John-Peter Amewu, would also lead a series of stakeholders such as the chiefs and the political leaders of the affected communities, to engage the people in a bid to resolve the situation.
“The few of us who chose to develop on the way of the proposed railway lines are holding all of us to ransom because the project has stalled and unless we clear these structures, the benefits of a modern railway transportation system, as envisaged by his Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, will be elusive,” he stated.
Financing agreed for construction of 100km section of Western Railway Line in Ghana
Development finance institutions Deutsche Bank and Investec, in partnership with Swedish Export Credit Corporation (SEK) and Export Credit Agency (EKN) as well as Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC), have arranged for close to US$ 708M in financing for the construction a 100km section (from Takoradi port to Huni Valley) of the Western Railway Line in Ghana.
The financing consists of two loans that the Deutsche Bank acted as mandated lead arranger (MLA), in favor of the Ministry of Finance of Ghana. The first loan, which is backed by EKN and fully arranged by Deutsche Bank, is an approximately US$ 618M loan covering the bulk of the cost while the second one is about US$ 89M commercial loan arranged and structured by Investec to cover the down payment on the EKN backed financing.
The latter is backed by ECIC and funded by a syndicate of Investec Bank Ltd, Rand Merchant Bank, a division of First Rand Bank Limited, Nedbank Limited through its London branch, and Sanlam life Insurance Limited, acting through its Sanlam Capital Markets division.
The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract of this section of the project will be carried out by Amandi Investment, together with Bluebird Finance & Projects, acting as the lead financial adviser for the EPC.
About the Western Railway Line
The Western Rail Line, which is also known as the Takoradi – Kumasi railway line, has a total of 339 kilometers from the Takoradi Port, in the Western region of Ghana to Kumasi, in southern Ghana, with a branch line from Dunkwa to Awaso.
It is key to the haulage of agricultural produce and minerals from the middle belt to Takoradi port and it is also home to key bauxite mines, which are the bedrock of the country’s integrated bauxite aluminium master plan.
Construction of 78km Manso to Huni Valley Section Commences
The construction of a 78-kilometer section of the Western Railway Line, from Manso to Huni Valley is set to begin according to Minister for Railway Development, Hon. John – Peter Amewu, after the contractor for the project, Messrs Amandi Investment Limited moved to the site.
The minister also revealed that the government has secured a loan facility estimated at €500 million from the Deutsche Bank for the development of the project adding that an initial advance of €68 million has been paid to the contractor as mobilization to ensure the construction of a new standard gauge starts.
Progress of ongoing rail construction works
Touching on the progress of ongoing rail construction works, Amewu said that the construction of the 22 km Kojokrom to Manso section that is also a part of the Western Line is currently 72 percent complete. The project, the implementation of which commenced in back 2018 is expected to be fully completed and handed over by the contractor, Messrs Amandi Holding Limited in the second quarter of 2022.
The Ministry, according to Amewu, was also going through the requisite approval processes tied to a contract with Messrs KEC to utilize an Indian Exim Bank facility for the development of a standard gauge line from Accra to Nsawam through Achimota and Kotoku. He explained that this will mark the first phase of the development of the Eastern Railway Line on standard gauge.
The Hon. Minister also mentioned that test runs have commenced towards the resumption of passenger rail services from Accra to Tema, and from Accra to Nsawam that were suspended in April 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak that led to the suspension of passenger rail services in the entirety of the country.