Ghana has already taken a lead in rehabilitating and expanding its railway network system, to pave way for the Trans-ECOWAS interconnecting railway project in member States.
According to Ms. Sophia Horner-Sam, Deputy Minister of Harbours and Railways, government had signed a contract with Peatrak Company Limited (an engineering company), to begin the first phase of construction of new rail lines from Accra through Tema to Kumasi.
She said the project would be expanded from Kumasi to Paga in the Upper East Region, to link the country to Burkina-Faso.
Ms. Horner-Sam, who was addressing experts at a national information seminar on the progress on a feasibility study on the Trans-ECOWAS interconnecting Railway project on Wednesday, said rail transportation could become the most viable option to road transportation, provided the costs were put under control.
The seminar, which brought together experts and engineers, would discuss, among other things, the content of the study, a presentation of the segments affected by the study in Ghana and the mode of data collection and was expected to educate stakeholders on the project so as to receive better imputs and add-ons to the scope of the study.
Ms. Horner-Sam said the rehabilitation of existing Western Railway lines from Takoradi to Kumasi through to Hamile in the Upper West Region, were all significant efforts towards ensuring a sustainable sub-regional integration.
“This can be achieved through the implementation of concrete projects and programmes aimed at developing the region in a comprehensive and interdependent way,” she said.
The Deputy Minister noted that coming on the heels of the African Union Summit, which had the vision of a united Africa, called for dynamic sub-regional organisations, which were committed and result-oriented.
She explained that the commitment by member states to the mobilisation of resources and the development of the railway industry in Africa was in line with the transport objectives for fulfilling the NEPAD Vision of reducing delays in cross boarder movements of people, goods and services.
“It will also promote cross boarder trade and economic activity through improved land transport linkages and improve air passenger and freight linkages across Africa’s sub-region,” she said.
Ms. Horner-Sam said for Ghana, pragmatic policies such as the development of a comprehensive national transport policy was operational to pursue strategic objectives that ensured safer, reliable, effective, efficient and fully integrated transport system that was responsive to the needs of producers and consumers.
She said if well developed, the rail system had the potential of becoming a vital part of the country’s transport system carrying a larger portion of travellers and freight on the busiest transport corridors of the country and beyond, while reducing cost.
She urged participants to provide realistic and practical information that would ensure an effective railway system in the sub-Region