CSOs Excited Over New Railway Engines, But…
News of some 12 units of modern diesel train engines and vehicles, purchased from Poland by the Ministry for Railways to operate both regional and long-distance lines, has excited many Ghanaians, including those in the civil society organizations (CSOs).
It is however unclear, how much the deal is costing government. Reports say, the engines and vehicles are expected in the country by the middle of February 2024.
The scanty nature of the contract has forced some, including civil society groups, to ask questions.
While some CSOs are seeing the initiative by government as commendable, they are probing the contract since the ministry announced the coming in of the engines.
The president of policy think-tank IMANI-Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, who has since described the initiative as “good,” is demanding answers for a number of questions.
Reports indicate that the contract framework, comprises some 12 diesel multiple units with the option for government to add 10 more. The vehicle shares technical seminaries with the Regio Fox vehicles produced by Bydgozsc for Czech Railways.
But the IMANI-Africa boss wants the ministry to come out with the proposed plan or contract for the acquisition, as well as procurement process to be used or adopted.
Mr. Cudjoe did not end there, he wants answers to how old the real coaches are, where they are being imported from and whether it is only passengers that would be carted on the railway line or cargo.
He also wants to know the current status of government’s alleged botched Sky Train deal, which was reported to have cost government some $2.5million and how that many can be retrieved.
Meanwhile, according to a government communication team member, Kofi Tonto, who has attempted further deals to the deal, saying it was approved by the seventh (7th) Parliament in October 2020.
“This acquisition was done and approved in parliament in October 2020 and you are now asking questions? Are you suggesting that you had no clue about this when it came up over three years ago?
“FYI: These trains will ply the already completed 100-kilometer Tema-Mpakadan rail lines. The line will be for cargo and passengers. It is part of the ambitious 1000 kilometers port to port railway project from Tema to Burkina Faso that President Kufuor envisioned as far back as 2007. The trains are coming from Poland,” he posted as a response to Franklin’s post yesterday.
Aside from some individuals close to government posting about the latest flagship initiative on the internet as a teaser, the sector ministry also joined the chorus on its Facebook page.
The ministry, headed by John Peter Amewu, noted that the engines and vehicles are slated to land on the shores of Ghana for testing soon.
“Modern Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) soon to arrive for testing and operationalization on the new 100km Tema to MPakadan railway line,” the brief post said.
Other reports on the initiative in the media have said that the move by the Akufo-Addo administration is to bring back the collapsed railway system many years ago, following neglect for the sector by successive governments.
A report by Daily Guide quotes an official of the Polish railway company, charged with the task of producing the engines, Rynek Kolejowy, saying the modern railways are expected in mid-February.
“They’re due to reach Ghana by mid-February.” He also added that they are already enroute to Ghana.
He disclosed that the Ghana Railways Company Limited ordered the modern diesel engines “from Bydgoszcz to operate both regional and long-distance lines.”
Rynek Kolejowy disclosed that “the first vehicle is already undergoing final tests at the factory in Bydgoszcz.”
The order, The Anchor gathered from the report was first confirmed in September 2023.
With the arrival of the engines and completion of some of the tracks, coupled with the railway bridge over the Volta River at Mpakadan, a major feat would have been chalked by the government in the line of resuscitating a transportation system long dead, its aged tracks overgrown with weeds.
The Mpakadan segment of the railway system constitutes a backbone of the track system between Tema, through Yendi, Tamale and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Ghana’s railway network built during the colonial era are three in number. They are Central, Western and Eastern Lines.