Government signed concession agreement for Accra SkyTrain project in November 2019
Accra SkyTrain project scheduled to be completed in August 2020
Government won’t be able to fund Accra SkyTrain project, Railway Development Minister
Almost 24 months after the government of Ghana signed a concession agreement for the construction of the Accra SkyTrain Project, the Minister for Railway Development, John Peter Amewu, has described the project as ‘impossible to realise’.
Signed on November 11, 2019, the concession agreement was to see the construction of a US$2.6 billion light rail system in Accra, Ghana and was to be financed by the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund and the African Investment SkyTrain Consortium.
But speaking on a recent episode of ‘Face to Face’ on Citi TV monitored by GhanaWeb, the current Minister for Railway Development told Umaru Sanda Amadu that the government would not go ahead with the sky train project.
According to him, government would not be able to fund the project owing to its intensity in terms of capital investment.
“The sky train that we are talking about is the one that is going to run on columns in the sky like the ones you see in Dubai but no agreement has been signed.
“It is not possible to be done now. I don’t see any sky train being done in the next 3-4 years. There is not going to be any Sky train in the country. It is not possible,” he stated.
The Minister noted that the funding for the construction of some already commenced projects is becoming a problem for government hence the need for the state to forgo the sky train project.
“Rail construction takes a lot of time and it is also capital intensive. A kilometer of a railway line is about four to five times the cost of building a concrete infrastructure in terms of building an asphaltic road.
“So considering the fiscal space that we have in the country, facilities to absorb it is becoming problematic for the government and you know our current debt to GDP which is in excess of 70%,” he said.
The Accra SkyTrain Project envisaged a total track length of 194 kilometers across all routes and was projected to provide transportation to around 380,000 people each day.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo speaking at the signing of the project described it as “a happy day for Ghana and her good people,” adding that it is a “critical step towards the consummation of this project,” and a vivid testimony of the value of the African Investment Forum.
He further touted the project as an “an important infrastructural need, and hopefully the step that is being taken today, that is signing the concession agreement, is bringing the project to much nearer conclusion. That is what we are hoping for so that the people of Ghana benefit from the progress and the relief that a modern system of transport in our capital city is going to bring.”
At the time the agreement was signed, it was said that the project will be completed in some 9 months which would have been in August 2020.
Former Minister for Railway Development, Joe Ghartey, speaking to Citi TV in November 2019, emphasised government’s commitment to the project saying not even the skepticism expressed by some citizens was going to deter his ministry’s resolve to ensure the Skyline project is realised in the best interest of Ghanaians.
“Everything starts with an idea. When Kwame Nkrumah started Akosombo, they said it was a dream. We dare to be different. What it is, is that we are still going to negotiate in the best interest of Ghanaians,” he said.
On why the government opted for an elevated, air-propelled monorail system instead of grounded rail tracks, Joe Ghartey argued that placing the project on the ground would have meant that Government would have to pay a lot of compensation to individuals in order to get the train to where people and traffic are.
“The beauty of trains is that, it must go where passengers are, it must go where traffic is, and also on the ground, you may have to pay too much compensation. You may not even be able to go to certain places because people will not just allow you to take over their property, so one of the options was for them to elevate the train and put it on the pillars.”
A Deputy Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, speaking during his vetting in February 2020, served notice that government was on course to deliver the project.