Government has begun negotiations with Chinese rolling stock suppliers to provide additional items that were not part of the initial plans put forward to rejuvenate the railway sector, the Minister of Railway Development, Joe Ghartey has said.
These additional items include training of local people with the aim of building their capacity in the sector to better service the trains as well as provision of spare parts for maintenance purposes for the coaches, wagons and freight cars. This follows the approval for the release of US$230 million by government to procure rolling stock to operate on the country’s railway lines.
The training mechanism is crucial because it would enable employees in the sector acquire higher knowledge in the area of servicing, maintenance and management as well as improving their technological capacity.
Importantly it aims to prevent the reoccurrence of one major factor that caused the decline of the country’s railway industry in the past – shortcomings in spare parts acquisition. This led to the total grounding of a number of trains that plied the Western, Eastern and Central railway lines, which subsequently affected the business activities directly or indirectly linked with the sector.
Speaking with the Goldstreet Business during an enhanced monitoring programme on the 99 kilometre Tema to Mpakadan railway project on Wednesday, Mr. Ghartey noted that these steps taken are parts of proactive measures to develop the industry, which he christened as the beginning of the Tema to Ouagadougou railway line.
“Provision of spare parts to service the trains is important. When you buy trains and you don’t have these in addition, it becomes another problem to deal with”, he reiterated.
According to the Project Manager of AFCONS Infrastructure Limited – the company constructing the Tema to Mpakadan railway line – Mr. Udai Veer Singh, the project was now 45 percent complete.
The project is expected to be completed by June 2020 despite changes in the initial plans and will now cost around US$400 million.
About 40 to 50 buildings constructed illegally on the Shai Osudoku District in the Greater Accra Region have been earmarked for demolition to enable the project go on without any delay. The Ministry has reiterated its commitment to taken action on this process.
By Dundas Whigham