By Edzorna Francis Mensah
Robert Wisdom Cudjoe, the Member of Parliament for Prestea/Huni-Valley in the Western Region has expressed his disappointment at answers provided by the Minister for Railways Development to his Parliamentary questions on Tuesday 5th December, 2023.
According to him, the Minister in person of Peter Amewu has never addressed his question, instead choosing to speak to the contract process in general without recourse to measures put in place to compensate affected people.
The MP in question wanted to know the “measures put in place to pay compensation to owners of properties located where the lines of the railway pass between Tarkwa and Aboaso”, but the sector minister in response said, “the Contract for the project made provision for payment of compensation and land related cost. We recognize the length of time the process has taken, and the inconvenience caused to people”.
Mr. Amewu however, added that, “this is a compulsory acquisition and all legal and statutory processes as required by the Lands Act, 2020 (Act 1036) need to be concluded before compensation payments could be made to the affected people. While Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) is the acquiring entity, the Lands Commission is the only Government agency responsible for valuation for compulsory acquisition purposes on behalf of the state”.
The MP at a media briefing in Parliament criticized the Minister for dodging the question deliberately.
Still on the Railway sector, the Minister assured that his Ministry and the Ghana Railway Development Authority are working tirelessly to ensure the completion of railway lines from Tarkwa — Aboso — Huni-Valley and beyond within the estimated period.
The Government of Ghana (represented by the Ghana Railway Development Authority) signed a contract dated 3rd June, 2020 with Messrs Amandi Investment Limited to construct sections of the Western Railway Line on standard gauge from Takoradi Port to Huni Valley.
The contract duration is forty-two (42) months from the Commencement Date of 28th November 2022.
According to the Minister, the project is therefore estimated to be completed by 28th May 2026 depending on the availability of funds.
He said, “as at the end of October 2023, the project was about 16.75% complete. It is our expectation to complete the connection between Nsuta and Takoradi Port by the end of 2024 for the haulage of Manganese to the Port, using the new standard gauge railway line which will be more efficient and reliable.
He said the project, however, “faces serious challenges from illegal mining activities along the railway corridor. Illegal miners are observed excavating within a few meters from the newly constructed railway lines. This compromises the structural integrity of railway formation causing significant additional cost to the project. The Contractor in some instances has to re-construct certain sections already done; clean up more silt left by miners in drains and culverts and reclaim land deteriorated through illegal mining. These are expensive activities that cost the Government millions of dollars”.