The Tema-Akosombo railway project has now been redirected to end at Mpakadan instead of Akosombo.
This has come about because the original design, which had the rail line terminating at Akosombo, posed a threat to the more than 50-year-old Akosombo Dam.
The old plan was to locate the rail tracks about 500 feet away from the dam.
The Chief Executive of the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA), Mr Richard Diedong Dombo, disclosed this to the media during an inspection tour of portions of the rail line last Monday.
He said considering the age of the Akosombo Dam, having the rail line so close to it would pose a major challenge to its structural integrity.
He added that feasibility work that was undertaken for the project had been done in a hurry and was also not well discussed.
“The Akosombo Dam is well over 50 years. The technology then is different from now.
It has clay foundations and all that.
In fact, the VRA raised objections that if the project went ahead, we were going to compromise the integrity of this national asset.
We reasoned with them and had to realign the design,” he said.
He was ,however, quick to add that the variation would not affect the completion date of the project planned for June 2021.
The variation to the project means that the project, a single-gauge railway line from Tema to Mpakadan on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) basis, has been expanded from 85 kilometres to 97.3 kilometres.
Under the EPC, the engineering and construction contractor will carry out the detailed engineering design of the project, procure all the equipment and materials necessary, and then construct to deliver a functioning facility to the client.
Mr Dombo said feasibility studies for the project conducted in November 2016 was not sufficient, else the realignment would not have been occasioned.
As part of the expanded scope, a 300-metre bridge will be constructed at Akosombo at a cost of $25 million.
The project, being funded by the Indian EXIMBANK, was originally estimated to cost about $400 million.
“Per the original contract of 84km, we were averaging $4.3 million per km. To add the 13 km, we are negotiating along those parameters,” Mr Dombo said.
AFCONS Infrastructure Limited, a subsidiary of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, India’s third largest construction company, was awarded the contract on July 2, 2018.
Mr Dombo said the project involved many processes including clearing squatters from adjoining lands of the rail line as well as acquiring new lands.
It was observed during the tour that at Kpong, which is 66 kilometres from Tema, the land has been cleared and levelled with heavy duty vehicles on site.
Another area, 66 kilometres from Tema, had been dug and the land levelled to meet the required topography.
At Kordiabe, which is 36 kilometres from Tema, Mr Dombo said there would be an underpass where a two-lane road would be constructed for vehicles.
Mr Dombo said the actual land acquired from the colonial period was 24 kilometres heading towards Akosombo, with 100 metres on either side of the tracks meant to be left as buffers for future developments.
However, there had been severe encroachment including siting of buildings on long stretches of the land obtained for the railway company.
“We are technically permitting 50-feet either way of the running rail.
All structures in the way of the project belonging to the authority will go.
“No squatter or encroacher has any right to compensation except for their human rights.
This means we will not kick you out just like that but give you adequate notice humanely.
But, you cannot thereafter demand compensation,” he said.
The General Manager of Projects at AFCONS Infrastructure, Mr Udai Veer Singh, said the company was currently having access to 66 kilometres of rail access way it was working on, with work progressing at different stages.
“There are places that are levelled and ready for track laying while in other places work is one-third complete,” he said.
He said work on 36 kilometres stretch out of Tema had been completed, adding that work to Kpong would be completed by December 2020.