Work is progressing steadily on the rehabilitation and construction of the Western and Eastern Railway Lines. The rehabilitation of the narrow gauge that runs from the Takoradi Ports to rich mineral city of Tarkwa is almost complete, whiles a new standard gauge on the Western Rail line is on-going.
Massive rehabilitation works are being taken on the Eastern Line, between Accra and Nsawam.
These projects when completed are expected to easy congestions at the Ports (Tema and Takoradi Ports), easy traffic on roads and improve the transport sector and as well boost the socio-economic livelihood of Ghanaians.
The Western Line
A new concrete bridge has been constructed over the convertible gauge in Kojokrom of the Western Region. Parts of the Kojokrom Township was detached after the construction of the new ticketing and rail terminal along with the convertible gauge from Sekondi Takoradi to Kojokrom. The community was exposed to vehicular accident and congestion on the Takoradi –Accra highway, as pedestrians and motorist have to use the only bridge that connects it. Following cries by the traditional authorities and residents on the Minister for Railway Development, Joe Ghartey, a concrete footbridge has been constructed to avert these crisis.
Currently a new standard gauge is being constructed on the Western Line.
The Western Rail Line runs from the Takoradi Port to Kumasi with a branch line from Dunkwa to Awaso. It is a total of 339 kilometers. Two mines are on this route. The Ghana Manganese Mine at Nsuta is 64 km from the port of Takoradi and relies on rail as well as road to transport manganese from Nsuta to the port of Takoradi. Its preferred mode of transportation is by rail and it is the inefficiency of the existing narrow gauge rail line, which compels it to use road, in addition to rail to transport manganese to the Takoradi Port. There is a bauxite mine at Awaso, 239 kms from Takoradi. This mine has used the rail network in the past, but it currently transports all its bauxite by road to the port of Takoradi because the rail line between Awaso and Nsuta, near Tarkwa, cannot be used. Opon Manso, which is also along the Western Line, has iron ore reserves of 150 million tons. This is yet to be exploited.
Cocoa is also found along the corridor in commercial quantities and before the collapse of most of the Western Line, cocoa was transported in significant quantities by rail. The last time cocoa was transported by rail using the Western Line was 2006.
Transportation of other bulk cargo such as; cement, mining equipment and petroleum will also benefit from the construction of the rail line. Out of a total route length of 339 km, only 66 km from Takoradi to Nsuta is operational. The estimated investment required to construct a single standard gauge rail line along the Western Line is US$1,898,400,000. The Western Line also connects to the Central Spine which terminates on the border with Burkina Faso at Paga.
The Eastern Line
Currently, construction is progressing steadily at Tema- Mpakadan (Akosombo). Drains and culverts are being constructed near the Achimota Station on the Eastern Line. The rail lines at Papase towards Nsawam has been rehabilitated. Several other works have reached advanced stages and would be completed soon on the Eastern Line.
The Eastern Railway Line links Accra to Kumasi with a branch line from Achimota to Tema port. The total track length is 330 km, and the gauge is 1,067 mm. Apart from the stretch from Accra to Nsawam and Accra to Tema which are being used for passenger traffic, the line is currently not operational due to its poor state. The reconstruction of the Eastern Railway Line will include financing, development and operation of the 330km line and will include the provision of rolling stock, station upgrades, signalling and communication equipment. The Eastern Railway Line when completed would help decongest Tema port and enhance the operational efficiency of the port, and provide an efficient and safer alternative to the road network, which is already congested. In terms of trade, the Eastern Line would enhance Ghana’s role as a transit corridor to landlocked neighbouring countries. It would in essence feed traffic from other modes of transport to the Inland Port at Boankra in the Ashanti Region. With this project, the socio-economic and commercial development in the Ashanti Region and the Eastern Corridor would be given a significant boost. Transportation cost and food security would be improved as traders and farmers from the hinterland and northen regions of Ghana could easily and efficiently transport their items on the rail.
The concept is to develop the Eastern Railway Line to modern standards in order to provide an alternative, faster, safer and more efficient mode for transportation of freight from Tema Port to an Inland Port at Boankra. In addition, it is being proposed to use the re-constructed Eastern Railway Line for passenger service from Tema Port/Accra to Kumasi hence the reason for using Kumasi as the destination for the Railway Line.
Story: Abraham Mensah