The Minister for Railways Development, Joe Ghartey, says the first railway line that was constructed in the country [Western Railway Line] exemplifies how railways can stimulate development.
The minister was speaking in an interview with host of Angel FM’s Anopa Bofo morning show, Captain Smart, on the development of the Sky Train Project between the Government of Ghana and Sky Train Consortium in South Africa.
According to Mr. Ghartey, “the then Gold Coast which is about a quarter of today’s Ghana became the richest colony just because rail had transformed the cocoa sector”.
He explained that, prior to the arrival of the Western Railway Line, cocoa production was slow in Gold Coast because farmers had to carry their cocoa harvest to the ports.
The cocoa farmers had to carry the cocoa and travel several kilometers from Obuasi and Tarkwa to the Takoradi Port for shipping abroad. How much could a person carry and how long did it take, he questioned?
Supporting his argument, he said that within 30 years, the Gold Coast became wealthy after rail lines were introduced to transport cocoa. He, however, said the rail was originally introduced for transporting gold.
“If we succeed in putting up the railway network in the manner we have planned, it will transform Ghana in a way that we have never thought of within the next 20 to 30 years”, he predicted.
He debunked claims on social media that the first station of the Sky Train Project would begin operations in August. He challenged it saying that, there’s a lot of work to be done after the signing of the contract and concession agreement.
The Railways Development Minister also revealed that there was one point of disagreement about the Sky Train Project regarding the “term of the agreement”.
“The project is not being financed by Ghana’s money; it is the people’s funds [SkyTrain Consortium] and they are requesting for 30 years to recoup their money and I asked on the basis of what”, he said in Twi.
He posited that the final figures from the South African firm must first undergo a value for money audit before the “terms of the agreement” can be agreed upon.