Ghana is seeking initial investments to the tune of at least one billion U.S. dollars to revamp its railway sector, Minister of Transport, Dzifa Aku Ativor disclosed here on Monday.
According to the minister, the initial capital will be spent on revamping the Western rail lines to take care of the economic zone of manganese and bauxite haulage to the ports and processing areas.
Ativor said these in an interview after opening a day?s workshop of the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) to work on the final draft of a plan for revamping the rail lines.
She said the development of the western rail lines was part of the greater national Railway Master Plan ?which seeks to expand the national rail network to cover the whole country and connect to the sub-regional coastal network?.
She said Ghana needed to speed up the development of the entire rail network if it must not lose out on the haulage business with neighboring landlocked nations.
?Our neighboring countries are fast developing their rail networks and, as you know, we do a lot of haulage to the landlocked countries so if we don?t complete ours in time, we would lose out on that trade,? the minister stated.
The GRDA has contracted TEAM Engineering SpA of Italy as consultants to develop a plan for the revamping of the Western rail lines as part of the national master plan.
She said the need to revamp the western lines in particular was also critical due to the manganese and bauxites estates at Awaso in the Western Region which needed rails for haulage rather than the road transport being used now.
?Public Private Partnership (PPP) model is the preferred method for developing business relationship with the private sector today.
?The GRDA recognizes the needs of the private sector and will facilitate an attractive rate of returns on investment and protection of investment as provided under the Ghana Investment Code and relevant legislations,? Ativor indicated.
The minister however added that since not enough positive response had been received from private investors, government might need to develop the rail infrastructure so that private operators would come in to operate.
Michele Nemesi, TEAM Director for Ghana, said Ghana was in a good position to develop its rail lines.
?Out of 1000 km of existing rail lines, only 150 km is working,? the consultant assessed, adding that there was the need therefore to revamp the existing network and expand it.
He pointed out that there was a relationship between railway and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for any country.
?The railway needs to be developed so that it can support GDP growth of the country,? Nemesi urged. Enditem