THE railway line stretching from Tema to Mpakadan is to be completed by August 2020, Minister for Railways Development, Joe Ghartey has said.

He noted that work on the 99-kilometre line, which costs US$230 million, is about 60 per cent complete and well ahead of schedule, despite a few changes to the original plan.

“The project from Tema to Mpakadan, according to the contractors, will be completed by August 2020. They did 100 kilometres in two years. They started in 2018 and they are finishing in 2020 and that is one year ahead of schedule,” Mr Ghartey said.

He congratulated the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Railway Development Authority, Richard Dombo, his team and consulting engineers as well as the contractors executing the project, Afcons Infrastructure Limited of India.

The minister was speaking to journalists in Accra at the Meet the Press series organised by the Ministry of Information.

Redesigning of project

Originally, the line should have started at Tema and ended at Akosombo, close to the hydro dam.

Per the plan, the contractors were to drill a tunnel about 60km away from the Akosombo Dam.

However, to avoid any unforeseen danger the construction of the project might pose to the Akosombo Dam, the route of the line was redirected to end Mpakadan instead.

“We did not want to create a disaster and take Ghana back a hundred years if the Akosombo Dam is damaged in the process of construction so we decided to redesign, reengineer the plan and instead moved it from Tema-Akosombo to Tema-Mpakadan,” the Railways Development Minister explained.

The redesigning has necessitated the building of a 300-metre bridge over the Volta River from Senchi to Mpakadan.

Mr Ghartey added that the change in plan has resulted in inflating the cost of the project by US$48 million.

The route of the project now begins from Tema through Afienya (all in the Greater Accra Region), North Tongu District (in the Volta Region), Manya Krobo and ends at Mpakadan, a few kilometres away from Akosombo.

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The Tema-Mpakadan Railway project is being funded by the EXIM Bank of India.

The remaining stretch will pass through the Volta, Oti, Northern, North East and Upper East regions before it crosses into Burkina Faso at Paga.

Linking Ghana with Burkina Faso

The Tema-Mpakadan rail line is part of the 1,000km Ghana-Burkina Faso Railway Interconnectivity Project which will link Ghana from Tema to Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou.

The two countries had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in January 2017 in Ouagadougou to kick-start the project.

According to the plan, some 800km of the railway line will be in Ghana’s territory while the remaining 200km will be on Burkinabe soil.

50-50 financing

However, the Burkinabe government has agreed to pay 50 per cent of the total cost of the project while Ghana finances the remaining half, Mr Joe Ghartey disclosed.

Total rail network crosses 4,000km

According to Mr Ghartey, when completed, the 800km that will be on Ghanaian soil will increase the total railway network of railway in Ghana to over 4,000km.

Compensation of land owners

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has been charged to assess claims and rightfully compensate those who will be affected or relocated as a result of the 800km railway line.