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General News of Saturday, 2 July 2005

Source: GNA

Billon dollars needed to extend railway to the North

Tamale, July 2, GNA- Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways, said the government would require about one billion dollars to extend railway to the Northern parts of the country to facilitate economic activities in the country. He said, consequently, the government is seeking five million dollars from the African Development Bank (ADB) to enable the government undertake detailed feasibility studies on the project.

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi, who announced these in Tamale at the inauguration of a five-member Northern Sector Shipper Committee of the Ghana Shippers Council on Thursday, said the government was also discussing the plan with other development partners for assistance. He said the project would involve the extension of the Ejisu railway through Mampong in the Ashanti Region to Nkroranza and Techiman in the Brong-Ahafo Region to link Tamale in the Northern Region. The railway would continue from Tamale to Bolgatanga and Paga in the Upper East Region to Burkina Faso and an extension would also be made from Tamale to Yendi because of iron ore deposits at Shani in the Zabzugu/Tatale District.

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi announced that another extension from the Western corridor of the country, a project that was still on the drawing board, would pass through Wenchi in the Brong-Ahafo Region, Bole in the Northern Region and Wa and Hamile in the Upper West Region to Burkina Faso. He assured the people of Northern Ghana that the government was fully committed to extending railway services to the area to facilitate the movement of goods and people to enhance trade with neighbouring states.

Professor Ameyaw-Akumfi said the government had allocated considerable resources for the improvement and expansion of infrastructure in the transport sector. He said the construction and rehabilitation of roads, the upgrading and transformation of the ports at Tema and Takoradi and the intensification of government's efforts at attracting investment to the railway sector were clear indications of the determination of the authorities to improve the entire sector.

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi called on service providers including those at the ports to work harder adding that "personnel working at the harbours should be up and doing because complaints about Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) are incessant". He said commissions and omissions by service providers resulted in lost in government revenue, high cost of transacting business among others. Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said: " all the malpractices at the harbours we hear about on daily basis cannot occur without the active participation of our shippers, who are ready to pay illegal levies to reduce the legal ones". He observed that under invoicing appeared too attractive to some shippers to be avoided and urged them to work together to improve the image of the harbours.

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said a remote monitoring system that had been installed in the Tema Harbour and the container terminals would be also be provided for the Takoradi Harbour while the setting up of a tracking system for transit traffic was being considered to help eliminate diversions of goods.

Mr Mohammed Amin Adam, Deputy Northern Regional Minister, said the region was endowed with natural resources such as iron ore, gold, which if exploited could bring revenue and employment to the people. He appealed to the Ghana Shippers Council and other stakeholders including the media to ensure that investors invested in the region.

Mr Kofi Mbiah, Chief Executive of the Council, noted that even though there had been an improvement in the trade and transport sector, freight costs remained high in the West African sub-region and urged governments of the various countries to work towards reducing them. He said cargo clearance procedures were also cumbersome and urged stakeholders to put in place measures that would create efficiency and competitiveness in the sector. The Kumbun-Nayiri, Iddrisu Abu, Chief of Kumbungu, in the Tolon/Kumbungu District, assured the Council of the people's cooperation and support.

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