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General News
ECOWAS Railway line project to begin soon 12/14/2010
The Government has signed an agreement with a Chinese company for the construction of the proposed ECOWAS railway line and modernisation of the Eastern line.

The railway line when completed would ease congestion at the main Tema Harbour and facilitate operations of the Boankra Inland Port. The ECOWAS Railway line will pass through Aflao-Winneba-Cape Coast-Omape and the Eastern line from Accra-Kumasi-Paga. Addressing the Meet-The-Press series in Accra on Tuesday, Mr Mike Hammah, Minister of Transport said the Boankra Inland Port project faced many difficulties, which included sourcing for funds on the Public Private Partnership for its completion and construction of railway lines as one of the solutions.

He indicated that the railway connectivity was a huge determining factor to realise the project, therefore, the Ministry was determined to collaborate with the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) to finalise a deal for rehabilitation of existing railway lines. Mr Hammah, who spoke passionately about the delay in the commencement of work on the Boankra Inland Port, noted that it was vital and when completed would bring import and export services closer to the doorsteps of shippers in the northern parts of the country as well as those from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

So far, only five African countries have inland ports, namely Algeria, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Swaziland.

It would link the ports of Tema and Takoradi to other parts of the country, the landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and expected to be a free port that would combine unimodal and inter-modal operations to ease congestion at Ghana''s seaports and facilitate transit trade between Ghana and the landlocked neighours.

The Sector Minister said the Ministry was faced with inadequate funding to support infrastructure development coupled with lack of titles to lands and encroachments for transport infrastructure development. He said lack of facilities for inland waterway system, lack of vessels for on-board practical training at the maritime university and lack of a reliable and efficient home-based carrier to support the aviation hub programme were hindering the success of their projects. Mr Hammah said the Road Transport Services sub sector had enacted a short term programme, new Road Traffic Regulation and assisted the Inter City STC Coaches (ISTC) Limited, Metro Mass Transit (MMT) and the private sector operators to acquire new buses.

It has also upgraded two trauma care centers along the Accra-Kumasi highway and provided two first aid posts on the Accra-Cape Coast highway and the facilitation of the installation and operation of speed cameras, speed limiters and fitting of retro reflective tapes to improve road safety. He said the Ministry had also established a driver''s academy to train and retrain drivers and trained more than 3,000 commercial drivers and 700 drivers from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Mr Hammah said the aviation sub-sector would remodel and install aero bridges and construct a fourth and fifth boarding gates at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in addition to the rehabilitation of existing airstrips and regional airports including the upgrading of Tamale aerodrome as an alternative to KIA.

The development of new airports in Western and Central Regions were in the pipeline to handle tourism and the oil and gas industry. On the Maritime and Inland Waterway Sub Sector, the Sector Minister said the Regional Maritime University (RMU) had been completed with the installation of a modern training facility in collaboration with SMTC Malaysia for offshore oil and gas safety training.

The RMU became an Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation Compliance (OPITC) having successfully undergone OPITC compliance audit. On future plans of the Ministry, Mr Hammah said the National Road Safety Commission would be converted into an Authority and continued with the Aviation Regulatory Framework to attract more airlines. "We would also develop a National Aerodrome Plan to serve as a guide for airport development, restore Ghana to FAA Category One and complete the construction of a perishable cargo facility at the Kotoka International Airport," he added.

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