Deputy Minister of Railways Development, Andy Appiah-Kubi, has announced that some Austrian railway services operators have expressed interest in participating in the development of the railway master plan for the country.
According to him, the development plan will constitute a track gauge of 1.435 mm, a shift from the narrow-gauge plan the country has deployed in the past.
To that effect, he said the ministry in partnership with the Austrian agencies will pursue a standard-gauge railway development concept.
The plan, designed and based on the deployment of diesel-powered engines will however, in the near future, explore the use of solar and windmill energy in generating power for the trains.
The Minister made this known while speaking at the 1st Austrian Railway Seminar in Accra.
He said government has designated four lines including the Western and Eastern Lines which begins from Takoradi through Tarkwa to Kumasi and from Accra through Tema to Kumasi respectively.
‘’Government is in the process of procuring contractors, with the support of transaction advisors, to develop the lines while consultants have already been engaged to do feasibility studies that would inform the work by contractors.’’ He added that other lines have been propositioned for the development of railways.
These lines will commence from Kumasi to Paga through Tamale and the Trans-ECOWAS Lines which run through Takoradi, Cape Coast, Accra to Aflao from Elubo.
He also spoke about an extension of the Eastern Lines from Tema through to Akosombo, Yendi, and Tamale to Paga which is expected to connect to the Ouagadougou line in Burkina Faso resulting into a transnational line.
The minister however implored all companies contracted to take part in the railway plan to strictly adhere to the local content law.
“We are particularly concerned with keeping all interested companies aware of provisions of our local content law, which was passed in 2012 and requires that local communities, people and ideas are integrated in any project the government pursues. This is very important in our quest to increase the involvement of local expertise and partners as well as technology transfer to boost project sustainability,” he concluded.
By Mawuli Y. Ahorlumegah