Go To Ouagadougou !
by PD Lawton 25 April 2021
The Ghanaian and Burkinabe governments are putting into practice the only true solution to Africa`s socio-economic challenges…..a united effort to construct infrastructure that unites communities, countries and regions.
The two countries are working together on a modern, high speed standard gauge railway to connect Quagadougou, the capital of landlocked Burkina Faso to Port Tema on the Gulf of Guinea, known as the Ghana-Burkina Faso Railway Interconnectivity Project . A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in in January 2017 in Ouagadougou between the two countries.
The line is being financed on a BOT system which means Build Operate and Transfer. At present there are 3 companies in the final stages of bidding for the construction and operation of the railway which is more than 1000km in length.
The initial stage from Tema to Mpakadan which is around 100km is now ( April 2021) reaching completion.This section has been financed by India`s EXIM Bank.There will be a railway bridge over the Volta River.
The project is already employing 100,000 Ghanaians.
From Mpakadan the railway will go through Kpeve, Hohoe, Jasikan, Nkwanta, Bimbila, Yendi, Tamale, Walewale, Bolgatanga, Navrongo and onto the northern city of Paga. From Paga the line will head to Quagadougou through main towns including Po, Zabre, Tenkodogo and Manga. Construction will begin by November 2021 at the latest and will be completed within 5 years.
The journey from Quagadougou to Port Tema currently takes 1 week. With the new standard gauge railway, the journey will take 12 hours!
RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE IN GHANA:
Ghana is in the process of complete transformation under the leadership and vision of President Nano Akufo-Addo. Development of infrastructure is key to the implementation of his vision for the industrialization of Ghana`s economy.
When the new administration came in, 90% of the rail network was non-operational. According to the former Minister of Railways, Joe Ghartey, the British left 947km of railway and by 2017, barely 10% was still functional. The last train from Accra to Kumasi on the eastern line was in 2001. On the western line the last train to Kumase, Ghana`s second largest city, was in 2004.
As Minister of Railways, Joe Ghartey outlined, Ghana`s vision encompasses not just the region but Africa as a whole.
“Standard gauge is what the African Union and ECOWAS have said that the entire Africa should use so that we can have trains that will set off from Djibouti and come all the way to Ghana.”
According to the recently formed Ministry for Railways website, the Ghanaian Railway Masterplan includes:
“To build a modern railway network from the South to the North of Ghana with associated infrastructure.
EXPECTED PROJECT OUTCOME
Infrastructure development in the towns which will be traversed by the railway lines.
Facilitate the efficient transportation of passengers and goods.
Improvement in internal trade and also trade with neighbouring countries.
Reduction in road maintenance costs and fewer road accidents.
Lower transport cost for both freight and passengers due to lower cost of transportation by rail.
Minimum traffic risks with the use of railway line for international carriers.
Creation of new settlements, industrial parks and economic zones.
Improvement in tourist activities.
Job and wealth creation.
Transformation of the economy. ”
The railway network is on standard gauge lines with speed of 160 km/hr.
The Western Line is being financed by the Ghanaian Government through the Railway Authority. There are minimal BOT ( Build Operate and Transfer) partners on the Western Line. Three sections, one of which is a viaduct which is the longest in West Africa, are being financed and built by foreign companies.
The Eastern Line is being financed by BOT. Financing by BOT is a necessity but not preferable. As former Railway Minister, Joe Ghartey, explained, using BOT , the government loose control of the line for 20-30 years.
When Minister Ghartey proposed building the Eastern Line by BOT, he was told it would not be possible. Sections of the line were put out to tender. Over 100 companies bid and out of that, 5 were selected. Those 5 are now vying with each other for the contracts and 2 have petitioned the government! The Railway Authority are now in a position where they can pick and choose who to contract, which proves that Ghana is most definitely not an insignificant West African country in the eyes of investors particularly as railway infrastructure is expensive and reqires expertise in civil engineering.
The cost of railway compared to road is much higher but the benefits of rail far exceed those of road.
The Railway Authority will retain 30% ownership of all BOT built lines.
Go To Ouagadougou !
Both Western and Eastern Lines converge in Kumase. President Akofu-Addo has charged the Railway Authority with the job of extending the line to Paga in the north east, bordering Burkina Faso.No railway line has ever gone past Kumase which is not even halfway to Burkina Faso.
The president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré , said to President Akofu-Addo:
” Don`t just get to Paga, go to Ouagadougou !”
This is the same spirit of unity reflected in President Buhari pushing for the Nigerian northern line to extend into neighbouring Niger.
Transnet of South Africa is involved and an agreement was signed by the South African Railway Operator and Ghana`s government in 2018 to supply and refurbish rolling stock and restore the existing Western Line between Takoradi and Tarkwa .
In 2019, President Akufo-Addo released $230 million to buy rolling stock which is the largest sum to ever be spent in the history of the country on railway equipment. Ghana`s Master Railway Plan is a first for Ghana in so many respects. It is the first time rail travel will be at the speed of 160km/hr, new modern rolling stock is being used and tracks are being built on asphalt, not sand and the rail is going beyond Kumase to the north in order that neighbouring Burkina Faso is connected by rail.
Later the Trans-ECOWAS line will connect Togo to Cote D`Ivoire, through Ghana and on to Guinea and Senegal. From Senegal the line will go due east to Djibouti and on it goes the great vision of African Integrated High Speed Rail Network !
Railway Minister, Joe Ghartey, summed up this vision which is being championed by President Nano Akofu-Addo :
“Railway development cannot be reduced to political partisanship.Railway development is development that lasts for over 50 years.We are not even competing with any political party. Because no political party can compete with what has been done even within in these 2 and a half years [ since 2017].” Minister Ghartley then outlined the critical, revolutionary,mold-breaking firsts that are being achieved by railway development. He continued by saying in his opinion:
“We as a nation should not be reduce everything to NDC NPP [ Ghana`s dominant political parties National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party]. We are developing this nation for Ghanaians regardless of political pursasion.That is the vision of the President, Nano Akufo-Addo, and that is the vision I will assist him to achieve.”
Source of quote:
The eastern line is from Accra-Kumase, the western line is from Takoradi – Kumasi.The central spine runs from Kumase to Gambaga in the north. One of the earliest cash injections came from the manganese mining sector. $390m funding has been secured for the Tema-Akosombo 84km line which is being constructed by an Indian company.
Railways create ancillary industries.
In 2017 Ghana opened the first Concrete Sleeper Plant in West Africa. The 80-million dollar Concrete Sleeper Plant in Dawa is owned by Ghanaian company, LMI Holdings. It can cast 416 moulds of sleepers a day for rail construction and will be able to export to other African countries.
The Chinese Development bank has loaned Ghana $2billion, half of which has been allocated to the Railway Authority. The funding is being concentrated on the Central Spine and the Western Line.
Accra – Kumasi (Eastern Line) 300 KM.The Eastern Line covers a distance of 300 km from Accra to Kumasi with a branch line from Accra to Tema. Apart from the 20 km of passenger service – Accra-Tema Line and the 40 km Accra-Nsawam Line,the existing railway is still unusable.There is also a proposed inland rail terminal (Boankra Inland Port) planned for the Eastern Rail Line.
An industrial economic zone is being created at Akosombo,which will be 2000 square acres.
Ports of Tema and Takoradi – These will enhance the railways and give sea access to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
There are 3 mining operations along the Western Line from Tekoradi -Kumasi .Ghana Manganese Mine at Nsuta is 64 km from the port of Takoradi. Recently discovered, copious bauxite deposits at Awaso, 239 kms from Takoradi, have now been allocated a new authority , the Integrated Bauxite Authority,which has the objective of processing the bauxite into finished aluminium products in accordance with President Nana Akufo-Addo`s vision for the industrialization of Ghana. There is also a significantly large iron-ore mine, Opon Manso, in the west with huge potential to develop a steel industry. There is an untapped deposit of 150 million tons.
The last time cocoa, for which Ghana is famous, was transported by rail using the Western Line was 2006 as the line ran into disrepair. The new rail will facilitate the transport of bulk cargo.
The Master Plan includes the Trans-ECOWAS line which is the most crucial to the Masterplan for Ghana and ECOWAS. It starts in Togo and cuts across Ghana to Cote D`Ivoire. It will start in Aflao on the border with Togo and will go due west along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, connecting Aflao, Keta, Sogakope, Ada, Tema, Accra, Winneba, Mankessim, Anomabo, Cape Coast, Takoradi and Axim It will terminate at Elubo, on the border with Cote d’Ivoire. Total length of the line is approximately 530 kilometres.
The Central Spine is 595km long and will link Kumasi in the central part of Ghana to the town of Paga in the north, on the border with Burkina Faso.At the Kumasi Junction, the Central Line splits into two lines, the Eastern Line and the Western Line.