Investors have expressed interest in funding the development of a viable Western Corridor railway network to support large-scale economic activities in that zone.

The 330kilometre rail project is expected to cost in excess of US$1 billion to execute.

Transport Minister, Dzifa Attivor said government is open to executing the project on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, given the noteworthy expressions of interest from investors.

"That is government policy. There have been some unsolicited proposals from investors, but we will be able to do some evaluation if we know the approximate cost of the entire project".

"Rail development is capital intensive, we should have started long ago; rail infrastructure is very expensive. Maybe it's about time that government invested in rail infrastructure for operators to come and operate," she said.

The zone earmarked for the project is one of the wealthiest in the country. It has huge deposits of minerals such as gold, diamonds and manganese. It also lays in the forest region of the country, renowned for timber, cocoa and oil palm plantations.

However, poor road networks and the decades-old neglect of limited rail networks in the area have limited full realisation of the region's potential.

The Ghana Chamber of Mines last month bemoaned the poor nature of railways in the Western Region. It's President, Johan Ferreira, said the Western railway line - the primary mode of hauling bulk minerals to the port - has deteriorated over the years as a result of infrastructure obsolescence and limited corrective investments.

He noted that bulk mining companies –like the other producers of bulk export commodities - have had to make use of the more expensive road-haulage system.

It is estimated that the cost of road haulage is 50 percent more than the alternative of using railway lines.

This affects the .bottom line of bulk mineral producers, and could threaten the very viability of mining companies.

The feasibility report on the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) of the Western Railway Line Infrastructure, which was presented by the consultants commissioned by the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA), revealed that there are crucial challenges that ought to be addressed before the supervising ministry officially 1 calls for proposals.

Activities of illegal miners, I the report noted, pose a serious threat to the endeavour.

The Western Railway Project is of significant economic importance. It connects the metropolitan area of Takoradi-Sekondi with Kumasi — the second-most populated capital in the country.

The Takoradi Port is also the second-largest port in Ghana for goods traffic, and its importance is increasing in relation to the recent oil wells exploitation strategy.

Kumasi is the connection point between the south of Ghana, represented by the triangle Accra-Takoradi-Kumasi - and the north of Ghana

Kumasi is also the rout for the traffic of goods coming from or directed to the north c Ghana and neighbouring landlocked countries like Burkina Faso. It also serves some important mineral deposits like the bauxite mines near Awa: and the manganese mines ne Tarkwa (at Nsuta).

Source: BFT