The Customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority has emphasized that from the 1st of November, 2020 it will commence the enforcement of the law that bans the importation of salvaged vehicles into Ghana barring any unanticipated circumstances and if all provisions stipulated in the law are fulfilled.
Speaking on Eye on Port, the state agency mandated to supervise imports stipulated however that for vehicles over ten years of age, it will require the Finance Minister in consultation with the Minister responsible for Trade through a legislative instrument to specify a date on which a motor vehicle of such nature will not be allowed into Ghana after some conditions stipulated in the Customs Amendment Act, Section 154 (2).
“The prohibition against the importation of salvaged motor vehicles into the country under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 58 shall come into force six (6) months after the date of the coming into force of this Act,” the Assistant Commissioner of Customs in charge of Policy and Programs of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Mr. Aweya Julius Kantum disclosed.
He said, since the Act was assented to on the 30th of April, 2020 its commencement should be from the 30th of October, 2020 and enforcement should begin a day after the law takes effect.
The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority explained that for every used vehicle that will be brought into the country from the day after the Law takes effect, in this case, 31st October, 2020, shippers or importers will be required to provide a clean tittle as well as ensure that the cars are not wrecked, destroyed or physically damaged by collision, fire, water or any other occurrence.
Mr. Aweya Julius Kantum added that “the other one which talks about the specification of the date where chapter 87 of the first schedule of the customs tariff, i.e. heading 87.03 and 87.04 where the duty rate is expected to go up to 35%, that has to be on the basis of a legislative instrument”.
Mr. Justice Njornan Magah Yadjayime, Supervisor in charge of Vehicle Valuation Unit of the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB) also explained that contrary to popular opinion that there is ambiguity in with the definition of salvaged by the law, the Act has left room for no human discretionary authority beyond what the law stipulates.
“The law is looking at the number of ways vehicles get damaged, so you are looking at flooding, collision etc. so all have been covered so that you don’t leave it to anybody’s judgement to say that this one can go and this one will not go, no,” he opined.
The Customs Officials further explained what importers of vehicles are expected to provide before clearing used cars in order to prove that they are not salvaged, from 1st November.
“In our case now where we are going to have the Automotive Industry, the Ghana Standards Authority is playing a key role where they are going to be looking at other aspects of it, the certificate of conformance for used cars and homologation certificates for brand new cars before importers can clear their cars.”
They emphasized importers should from now begin to weigh the caliber of vehicles that they import into the country.
“Usually, importers employ the services of shipping agents who are able to help them to go through the documentation so the agents are the main source of information for the importers. So once a shipper gets to know that these are the requirements before one can ship a vehicle into Ghana, they must comply to meet the requirements before shipping a car into Ghana.”
The Assistant Commissioner of Customs in charge of Policy and Programs of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Mr. Aweya Julius Kantum also revealed that, the Authority will start enforcing the law from first November and therefore the law will apply to any vehicle that is brought by a vessel that docks on first of November, 2020 and beyond.
“The time of importation in customs is the time that the ship docks and reports to customs that it has docked. If the ship comes from 1st November, it means it is time bound and it means that the law will catch it.”
The Customs top hierarchy also explained why some specific vehicles including those designed for the transport of persons other than those under the heading 87.02 including station wagons and racing cars and motor vehicles not exceeding 5 tonnes for the transport of goods will attract 35% import duty.
“The local manufacturers are doing their business and the government is looking at a number of parameters to assist them, so if everyone is allowed to bring in vehicles that the local manufacturers are already manufacturing here in Ghana at a cheaper rate, it will not help the local manufacturing companies that government is trying to pop up. That is why some of these conditions have been put in place so that if you still want to import these same cars that are manufactured in Ghana, then you pay the 35%, otherwise there are alternatives here for people to buy from,” Mr. Justice Yadjayime, explained.
Mr. Aweya Julius Kantum further enlightened that the law was made to protect the local automotive industry.
“One must avert him/herself with the internment of the law, if the import duty remains very low, how can local manufacturers or assemblers be able to compete with the imported foreign ones. Of course you have to encourage them with incentives so that they can also invest and have returns on their investments.”
They explained that this will not contravene the ECOWAS regional protocols which pegs Customs External Tariffs for vehicles at 20% import duty.
They explained that about 70% imported vehicles are already used and about 90% of imported used cars are salvaged.
They said there are options to place some responsibilities on shipping lines to ensure that they don’t carry vehicles that do not have clean tittles or are salvaged.
“Carriers also have some responsibilities. Shipping agents have responsibilities to their clients. Now Shipping agents ought to know the laws that pertain in Ghana and when he or she knows, he/she will then advise his client that from 1st November Ghana is not accepting salvaged vehicles and the carrier will be seized with that information, then it will be incumbent on them not to bring the cargo, but once they bring the cargo, then they will be liable.”
They said though the Ministry of Trade has done some analysis on the impact of the Policy on Customs Revenue among others, they believe that the overall effect on the national economy far outweighs the sacrifice.
According to the Officers, government is firm on implementing this particular ban on salvaged vehicles and therefore hope that the public will be able to start observing the need to avoid such vehicles and had a general advice for the public.
“Now anybody who intends to import, should be reminded that if the cargo arrives before the first of November then he or she is within time, if it’s after that, then it means they are time bound. Now don’t assume that the law is going to change, work on the basis that the law is going to start and then you will not fall foul of the law.”
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism and Member of Parliament for Afigya-Kwabre North Constituency, Nana Marfo Amaniampong and a Deputy Minister of Transport and Member of Parliament for Tema East Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover who is also a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism have both applauded the presidency for what they described as a bold initiative to direct all Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and all state owned agencies to prioritize as their first option, the purchase of locally assembled vehicles they intend to procure.
In a letter dated, 3rd July, 2020 and signed by the Chief of Staff, Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, the President directed that “effective July, 2020 all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) as well as all State Owned Agencies which desire to acquire new vehicles, should prioritized as their first option, the purchase of locally assembled vehicles they intend to procure.”
Speaking on Eye on Port, the duo said the move comes as an attestation to the seriousness the President and his government attaches to industrialization of the Ghanaian economy beyond aid, increasing employment, encouraging investment and preserving foreign exchange all geared towards growing the Ghanaian economy.
“The President by this document is giving a lot of support to this initiative, which by the way is his own baby. My outfit which is parliament for example is a bad example. When we want chairs, we go to China to import. The government wants to curtail all these bad practices.” the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism asserted.
According to Nana Marfo Amaniampong, Ghana has gotten to the point where it needs to create permanent jobs by implementing such efficient policies.
“Going forward, the President is saying that MDAs, MMDAs and all state owned agencies and even schools, the next batch of cars and buses that we give to the secondary schools or the tertiary institutions, will be vehicles which have been assembled in Ghana here. That will tell people how serious the president is as far as his policies are concern,” he echoed.
The Deputy Minister of Transport though admitted that demand may outdo the capacity of local manufacturers from the early stages, eventually the benefit will far compensate for the initial inconveniences.
“Imagine all these MMDAs, how many manufacturing companies do we even have, I am sure Nissan and one or two others, but every institution and the kind of vehicle they want, be it, saloon cars, pickups, land cruisers etc., so it’s going to take quite a little time. But we need to encourage ourselves, because the vision that the president has brought is a very laudable one,” the Deputy Transport Minister added.
On Tuesday March 3, 2020, Parliament adopted and approved the Joint Committees on Finance, Trade, Industry and Tourism report for amendments to be made in the Customs Act, 2015.
The new Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2020 sought to amend the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) to provide incentives for automotive manufacturers and assemblers registered under the Ghana Automotive Manufacturing Development Programme (GAMDP).
The Bill is also to prohibit the importation of salvaged motor vehicles comprising wrecked, destroyed, or physically damaged by collision, fire, water or other occurrences as well as specified motor vehicles over 10 years of age into the country.
The Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will also increase the import duty on specific motor vehicles and provide import duty exemptions for the security agencies and officers of the security agencies especially those who go on various assignments and peacekeeping in the security interest of Ghana.
The Bill was subsequently referred to the Joint Committees on Finance, Trade, Industry and Tourism for consideration and report in accordance with Article 174 of the Constitution and Orders 159 and 169 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
Speaking on Eye on Port’s live interactive programme, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism, Nana Marfo Amaniampong confirmed that the President of the Republic has assented to the bill and thus become law from 30th of April 2019.
“You know, under the customs Amendment Bill 20202, its been assented, but you know we had to wait six months before it becomes operational, so effective October, if nothing untoward happens, it may come into force,” the Chairman confirmed.
He said it’s instructive, that 6 months after the bill became law which in this case is 30th of October, 2020, its enforcement will commence.
“Left to me, I would love a total ban so that there will be pressure on us to act and deploy all arsenals so that production may be tripled and everybody in Ghana may begin to drive a brand new car but given where we are coming from, that may be difficult at the moment, but at least that should be the direction of the nation,” he urged.
Nana Marfo Amaniampong who is also the Member of Parliament for Afigya-Kwabre North Constituency explained that the time has come for the nation to move away from reliance on such salvaged, rickety and old vehicles to protect and improve the lives of its citizens.
“We cannot continue to depend on the salvaged cars. And you know, these high rate of accidents, we have on our roads can largely be attributed to that angle,” Nana Marfo Amaniampong said.
A Deputy Minister of Transport and Member of Parliament for Tema East Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus Glover, also a former Chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism contributing on the subject of the banning of salvaged and overaged vehicles said the law is in line with the overall agenda of government towards transforming the Transportation sector of the nation’s economy.
“The major essence of the Ministry and for that matter, the vision of the President as to how we can promote effective public transport system because we have too much congestion on our major roads,” the Deputy Minister of Transport said.
He said when the enforcement of the law commences, it will improve the transport sector through modernized standards. “I believe sincerely that, we can cure this problem of congestion, where we have all kinds of vehicles that are overaged being imported into our country and also serve as another way to prevent Ghana becoming a dumping ground for such substandard vehicles. And there are times that when some of these vehicles are imported, their parts may not even be available and they have to improvise and these contribute to some of the accidents on our roads,” he explained.
He said the law will ensure safety of cars, drivers and passengers and reduce records of accidents and traffic congestion in Ghana.
“We cannot say that because of the Commercial vehicles, we should allow all kinds of vehicles into our country, there should be a stop somewhere, so that we will be able to control the system. And some of these vehicles come in the form of cargo vans then they are sent to the garages and do some improvise seats in those wagons but originally that’s not how they came,” Titus-Glover emphasized.
The Deputy Minister urged Ghanaians to re-orient themselves to embrace the new law that will ban the importation of such salvaged and overaged vehicles as the Ministry of Finance lead the way to commence public sensitization.
“Importers need to conform with the law and to do that, it is a matter of education and advocacy to let the public know, because even somebody will say that the law has been passed and we are not aware of it, indeed ignorance of the law is no excuse, but the Ministry of Finance and Customs Division must commence intensive education to sensitize, that the following law will be operational from October barring all unforeseen circumstances,” the Deputy Transport Minister and Member of Parliament advised.
Stakeholders in the transit sector including Ghana Shippers’ Authority, Ghana Highways Authority, Niger Shippers’ Council, Mali Shippers’ Council, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)-Customs Division, Burkina Shippers’ Council, Burkina Chamber of Commerce, National Security and the State Insurance Company have reviewed the performance of transit trade for the first half of 2020.
At a second quarter meeting of the Greater Accra Transit Shipper Committee held at the Ghana Shippers’ House issues such as the impact of COVID-19 on trade and challenges associated with the implementation of the newly introduced Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS), among others were discussed by the stakeholders.
Challenges mentioned raised include, the return to the manual clearance of goods at the Ports, physical escorts of transit goods instead of tracking devices and its attendant general delays leading to demurrage and rent charges.
A representative of the Mali Shippers’ Council appealed to the GSA to intervene on behalf of transit shippers whose goods have attracted demurrage and rent charges due to the inability of the new integrated customs management system to process declarations on time.
The Head of Freight and Logistics of the GSA, Fred Asiedu-Dartey assured the stakeholders of the Authority’s preparedness to raise their concerns with the relevant authorities for redress.
The Head of Inter-State Road Transit (ISRT) of the SIC, Anthony Osei Ntiamoah reported that 12,078 trucks carted transit cargo between January and March to Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’lvoire, Togo, Benin and Nigeria while the National Guarantor issued 8,672 transit bonds during the same period.
The Transit Shipper Committee was established by the GSA to address challenges faced by shippers along Ghana’s transit corridor and also deepen Ghana’s trading relationship with land-locked nations of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
The Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) have renewed commitments to facilitate trade by air through regular inter-agency engagements for the benefit of exporters and importers.
The two state agencies made the pledge when the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, Benonita Bismarck and her team paid a courtesy call on the Aviation Authority.
The visit formed part of the GSA’s strategic plan to deepen its relationship with stakeholders in the shipping and logistics industry with the overall objective of protecting and promoting the interests of shippers in Ghana.
Benonita Bismarck stressed the need for the two organisations to strengthen their collaborative efforts to remove trade bottlenecks inhibiting trade facilitation.
She said it was in furtherance to this commitment that the GSA established a Shipper Complaint and Support Unit at the Kotoka International Airport to readily resolve complaints of shippers.
Receiving the delegation, the Deputy Director-General (Technical) of GCAA Ing. Charles Kraikue thanked the GSA for the visit and pledged his outfit’s commitment to work more closely together in the interest of stakeholders.
He expressed his organisation’s willingness to provide the GSA with up-to-date trade statistics on air cargo volumes.
Other issues discussed during the visit were challenges faced by shippers as a result of the implementation of the new Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS), the need for a centralised database for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the registration of shippers among others.
The GSA team also had meetings with officials of the Ghana Airport Company Limited and Air Ghana and discussed other trade facilitation issues at the airport and the way forward to addressing them.
During the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger on 7th July, 2019, AU Heads of State and governments decided that, 7th July of each year be designated as Africa Integration Day without it being a holiday, to commemorate the operationalization of the AfCFTA and popularise economic and social integration across the continent, as a lever of inclusive sustainable development.
African countries were encouraged to come up with commemorative activities to observe and celebrate the achievements of AfCFTA in the preceding year.
As we celebrate the maiden edition of the Africa Integration Day, Eye on Port engaged pundits assess how far the continent has come in its efforts to integrate and how member countries including Ghana are positioning themselves to harness the opportunities embedded in the continental free trade area agreement that has been signed by 54 out of 55 member countries and ratified by about 30 countries so far.
A Technical Advisor on Multilateral, Regional and Bilateral Trade to Ghana’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, Anthony Kwasi Nyame-Baafi explained that Ghana as a small market nation on the continent delights in the integration agenda of the region.
“Regional Integration is actually the way forward for our Social Economic Development as a nation.”
He said even bigger markets are equally enthused about the economic integration of Africa due to the enormous opportunity that it presents.
“We are anticipating that with the implementation of AfCFTA, it will actually boost Intra-African Trade for the benefit of Ghana and all other nations.”
A Principal Policy Advisor to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Joseph Atta-Mensah explained that having a free trade area is the same as having a regional integration and that not enough policies had been put in place by the continent to trade among itself in the past.
“You want to look at a point where you don’t want to stop exporting cocoa in its raw form. You want to be able to export chocolate rather and compete with the Belgians. Therefore, it requires you to see how you can make your chocolate very competitive in the global market place. And I think this is the opportunity.”
While praising all efforts made by African leaders to bring the integration agenda to fruition, Joseph Atta-Mensah advised Ghana to take advantage and create a financial hub and focus on relying on manufacturing to remain competitive.
“Since Trade is going to come, there will be movement of capital, there will be movement of equity, there will be movement of the financial market. So why don’t you look at making Ghana a financial hub?”
National President of the Borderless Alliance, Ziad Hamoui said civil society is excited that the continent has moved from conversation on commitment to implementation and urged stakeholders to come together and build a resilient agenda.
“I cannot personally believe that investors are trooping to Africa and there is no potential nor investment opportunities. There is an investment opportunity, there is a high quality product that value needs to be added, manufactured and produced in-house within the continent and then traded across.”
He said there had been lack of clarity in previous regulations and therefore commended dispute regulation protocols instituted in AfCFTA.
“There will be an established body similar to what the World Trade Organization has which may have the powers to sanction some of the countries that will flout regulations.”
The policy advisor to UNECA highlighted lessons that can be drawn from sub-regional economic bodies like ECOWAS, SADC, ECAS, UEMOA.
Anthony Nyame-Baafi highlighted structures and actions Ghana has taken to harness the potential of AfCFTA.
He said COVID-19 had disrupted initiatives that were near their conclusive stages.
On easing up border restrictions by member countries the pundits urged caution.
The Ghana flagged Tuna Purse Seine vessel called Panofi Frontier that was hijacked by suspected Nigeria pirates in Benin waters on Wednesday at about 1400 hours has been located and guided to the Tema Port by the Ghana Navy.
It is reported that there were 30-member crew on board the vessel, out of which 25 were Ghanaians and 5 were Koreans.
6 crew members, 5 Koreans including captain of the vessel and a Ghanaian cook called Kofi Opuni on boarded the vessel are reported to have been abducted by the pirates and could still not be found at the time the vessel was brought to the Port of Tema by the Ghanaian Navy.
According to the Ghana Navy, they met the vessel at the Ghana-Togo border and brought it to the Port of Tema anchorage on Thursday, 25th June, 2020.
According to the Navy, apart from the 6 crew members who had been captured, the remaining 24 crew were safe and in Ghana but the Navy is still gathering detail information on the entire incidence.
Security agencies at the Port of Tema including the Port Security, Marine Police, Navy and members of the Joint Port Control Units have all joined forces to investigate the incident to unravel the circumstances leading to the hijack.
The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority has been supported by the European Union through the EU WeCAPS project, with over half a million cedis worth of personal protective equipment to help the fight against COVID-19.
These PPEs include 5000 pcs surgical masks, 2000pcs KN95 Nose masks, 2000 disposable surgical gowns, face shields, gun thermometers, gloves. goggles, overalls, hand sanitizers and accompanying dispensers, scrubs and cover-alls.
These items will be used in the various GPHA health facilities as well as the operational and administrative areas of the Ports of Tema and Takoradi. Additionally, the Regional Maritime University also received a related donation of PPEs from the EU.
According to the EU Ambassador to Ghana, Diana Acconcia, WeCAPS which is funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak is ensuring that partner ports in West and Central African sub region are supported to manage and mitigate the impact of the coronavirus.
She said, this project is part of a wider policy of the European Union to support maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea area, which ensures that the capacity of Port Authorities in the West and Central African sub region is enhanced.
The Director General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Michael Luguje, praised the efforts of the European Union and their partners and expressed that this gesture would augment the Port Authority’s COVID-19 related activities and help ensure that Ghana’s Port environment is safe for business continuity.
The Pro Vice Chancellor of the Regional Maritime University, Jethro Brooks expressed the significance of the donation to the tertiary institution especially as it embarks on its continuity plans.
The Sevenlog Managing Director, Christophe Monmarché who was also the WeCAPS focal point applauded the EU and also commented on the positive impact the donation would have on the port community.
In addition to Tema and Takoradi ports, it was revealed that Doula, Cameroon, Brazzaville, and Pointe Noire of Congo, Abidjan and San Pedro of Cote D’Ivoire, Dakar, Senegal and Lome, Togo are other beneficiary ports of this project.
The Minister of Railway Development, Joe Ghartey has revealed that the Ministry will be ordering over 30 standard gauge trains in June this year.
According to him, the Ministry has already gotten approval of about 130million dollars’ worth of trains which will be purchased from a company in China.
Speaking live on Eye on Port’s interactive programme on national television, Joe Ghartey stated that the technical committee of the Ministry is engaging their counterparts in China to agree on the specifications on the trains.
“Once they agree on the specification we will sign the particulars of the contract and then we order,” he said.
He said the about 35 trains including both standard and narrow gauge trains would be ordered in June 2020 and should arrive latest by 2021.
“We need to make the order ahead of time for them to bring it, so if we order now it may not come this year, it will come in about 18months time. We are seeking advice from the Ghana Railway Company limited for them to tell us how many trains they will need,” he said.
“If you look at our passenger trains, they are not sufficient for the demand in addition to the fact that post COVID-19, now we can’t park our trains so we need more passenger trains hence have ordered some from a South Africa company called Transnet,” he added.
He revealed that the Ministry is purchasing more standard gauge for 2 reasons.
“Standard gauge is what the African Union and ECOWAS have said that the entire Africa should use so that we can have train that will set off from Djibouti and come all the way to Ghana. In East Africa, they are doing cross country railway line. We have started in Ghana that is the Ghana-Burkina rail line,” he said.
The Minister said about one hundred (100) old coaches were sold before he assumed office but he ensured that the rest that were left when he took office are rehabilitated and currently being operated.
“The train that goes to Nsawam is a rehabilitated train. The passenger train that goes to Takoradi is also rehabilitated,” he said.
The British, according to him left 947 kilometres of rail line but when he was appointed a minister what was left was barely 10% of that figure.
“And even that 10% was barely working. The last time a train went to Kumasi to Accra was in 2001 on the eastern line. On the western line, it was 2004.” the Minister of Railways Development explained.
The Minister of Railway Development, Joe Ghartey, has revealed that ongoing rail constructions which should have seen completion by end of August 2020, have halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as over 70 workers undertaking the construction tested positive for the virus.
Speaking on the Role of Rail in Multimodal Connectivity and Economic Growth in Ghana, the Railway Minister revealed that COVID-19 has significantly affected all rail projects across the country.
“The thing that disturbed us the most was that we were about to do the 300 meters across the Volta river and the infamous COVID-19 came and affected the project. When the President announced the lockdown he excluded railways and roads thankfully. But what happened was that over 70 workers in the camp got the virus,” he said.
According to Joe Ghartey, who is also the Member of Parliament for Essikado-Ketan Constituency, although the affected patients have so far recovered, construction works is yet to resume on the various rail lines.
“Thanks be to God all of them have recovered and the Ministry of health in the Eastern region have written that all have recovered and they will be getting to work soon,” he added.
Again, he revealed that the government will give a cash injection to salvage the losses of the Ghana Railway Company Ltd who haven’t been paid for three months because they couldn’t make money from both working on the passenger and cargo lines due to the fact that they were also halted as a result of COVID-19.
“All our work across the railway sector have been affected by the Covid-19. Ghana Railway Company revenue has gone down and they had to shut down their passenger services because they want to observe social distancing and they run at a massive loss,” the Railways Minister asserted.
The Minister assured of his outfit’s commitment to ensure the over 20billion worth of railway projects being undertaken by government stays on course.
He said because the national rail network is capital intensive, government has adopted different financial modules for different segments of the rail lines.
These financial modules include one that government will directly invest its money in, as well as parts which would be on a build, operate and transfer investment module by foreign investors who would bring on board capital, human resource expertise, and modern technology.
“What will happen in some of the lines is that government will be putting its money in various parts of the line while looking for strategic partners,” he stated.
He revealed that the Ministry of Railways has arrived at a shortlist of 3 foreign investors where one would be selected in August to construct the rest of the eastern line to complete the lines from Mpakadan to Paga.
The said line will connect Ghana with the Sahelian regions where a lot of goods are transited to and from Ghana. He said the masterplan of Government is also to extend both the central spine rail lines from Accra to Kumasi to Tamale and Paga to connect to the northern frontier and western rail lines in order to enjoy the full benefits of all the lines.
Joe Ghartey, who is a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice asserted that government would make way for private participation for the branch lines that would connect to cities and the main national lines.
Joe Ghartey disclosed that, the Government of Ghana ambitiously plans to provide light rail infrastructure within the inner city to solve the problem of heavy traffic in Accra and other traffic-laden areas.
He stated that the year 2004 was the last time cocoa was carted on the western line and this has negatively impacted the cost of doing cocoa business.
In order to address this, the Minister of Railway Development stated that the western lines which are currently being revamped will relieve the pressure suffered by roads which get constantly destroyed by heavy duty vehicles carrying goods.
“One of the reasons why the Tarkwa and all the other roads are spoilt is because of the heavy trucks that are moving on the road.
If we don’t build the railway to take away heavy trucks on the roads then the roads will get spoilt again,” he stressed.
The Minister of Railway Development, Joe Ghartey denied assertions that hauliers who use the road corridors are sabotaging the construction of rail lines due the perceived threat to their businesses and opined that the railways would rather create alternative business for them.
Joe Ghartey disclosed that consultations have been done with all local and traditional authorities in areas where constructions are undergoing and they have given their full commitment towards the successful completion of railway projects despite some socio-economic consequences that may be suffered in the interim.
“The Chiefs have been wonderful from North to South. The minister for Local Government, the DCEs we have had excellent relationship with them,” he noted.
The Minister of Railways Development, Joe Ghartey has given the strongest indication that workers of the Ghana Railway Company Limited who haven’t been paid for some three months now will in the coming week be paid.
According to Joe Ghartey, who doubles as the Member of Parliament for Essikado-Ketan Constituency the 3 months’ salary arrears is as a result of the fact that the Ghana Manganese Company Limited stopped its operations.
“Ghana Railway Company Limited earns it money from manganese and what happened was that the manganese company didn’t operate for some time,” he said.
Speaking on Eye on Port interactive session on national television, he gave the assurance that government is giving a cash injection which will cover all the company’s expenses up to March 2021.
The money, he said “will hit the account next week”.
He entreated workers of the company to always endeavour to give off their best in the discharge of their duties.
“It is not free money and I trust that they will respect government’s good intention for the sector and they will also improve their delivery and I have confidence in them,” he said.
Joe Ghartey disclosed that the 97km rail line eastern route from Tema to Mpakadan is 60% complete.
The percentage of completion, according to him, is based on the interim payment certificate that have been passed by the consultants of the project.
“They have passed 24 Interim payment certificate so far and the certificate is based on the work that have been done so far,” he said.
He revealed that ongoing rail constructions which should have seen completion by end of August 2020, have halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as over 70 workers undertaking the construction tested positive for the virus.
Speaking on the on the Role of Rail in Multimodal Connectivity and Economic Growth in Ghana, the Railway Minister revealed that COVID-19 has significantly affected all rail projects across the country.
The thing that disturbed us the most was that we were about to do the 300 meters across the Volta river and the infamous covid-19 came and affected the project.
When the President announced the lockdown he excluded railways and roads thankfully. But what happened was that over 70 workers in the camp got the virus,” he said.