The first 100 kilometres of the 1000-kilometre Ghana-Burkina Faso rail network is scheduled to be completed by August next year, Minister of Railways Development, Mr Joe Ghartey has assured.
According to him, construction works on the stretch, which starts from Tema in the Greater Accra Region to Mpakadan in the Volta Region had commenced and the contractors were working feverishly to ensure they met the deadlines.
"The line is part of the main Ghana-Burkina inter connection project which will link the two West African countries and improve trade relations between Ghana and Burkina Faso," he added.
Taking his turn at the Meet-the-Press Series organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday, Mr Ghartey said government was committed to delivering for the country a modern railway system.
Falling short of giving the actual cost of the project, he said the first stretch of 100 kilometres was expected not to cost more than $600 million.
Mr Ghartey explained that even though by international standards, a kilometre of the standard gauge cost between six and seven million dollars, Ghana's own was estimated at about $4.5million.
He said although the construction was being undertaken by Afcons of India, more than 80 per cent of the work force were Ghanaians.
To avoid undue litigation and rancor between land owners and developers, he said all the necessary steps had been taken to get the buy-in of traditional leaders and land owners of areas where the project would run through.
Mr Ghartey said the land valuation and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had been tasked to undertake the valuation and compensation package for the affected land owners.
"Compensation will be paid to all whose land or properties maybe affected, but I must emphasise that trespassers will not be compensated in any way or form," added.
The minister said his outfit was not building a rail network, but rather developing nodal system of railways which allowed for other commercial activities to take place around the stations.
He said so far four companies had been shortlisted to participate in the building of the remaining 900 kilometres, adding that "this is not going to be a Public Private Partnership, but rather on Build Operate and Transfer basis."
Mr Ghartey also commended the government of Burkina Faso for taking 50 per cent cost of the preconstruction processes, even though their stretch of the whole project was just 200 kilometres, representing 20 per cent, whilst the remaining 800 kilometres was that of Ghana.
The project when completed would see, Tema, Mpakadan, Hohoe, Jasikan, Nkwanta, Bimbimla, Yendi, Sheini, Tamale, Bolgatanga, Navrongo and Paga all connected by railway.