‘The construction of the railway line from Sekondi to Tarkwa, a distance of 39 miles was commenced in 1898, but owing to various difficulties, the rails only reached Tarkwa on April 17th, 1901. In July of that year, an extension was commenced and Obuasi (124 miles) was reached by the end of 1902.’
The foregone is an excerpt about the development of the railway system by the Colonial authorities in the Gold Coast as contained in the publication ‘The Gold Coast Handbook 1928.’ It was a compendium of the Gold Coast edited by the Chief Commissioner of Ashanti, John Maxwell.
The colonial government was as much in a hurry as President Akufo-Addo in applying the railway magic to open up the country for heightened economic activities.
In the colonial era, the Gold Coast was underdeveloped and the authorities sought to expedite its opening so that progress would be made – the country being a model whose template could be used in other parts of the British possessions. The role of the railway even in those early days was not overlooked hence the expedited action by the authorities.
Today, after so much stagnation in our economic march – the reason for which anomaly is attributable to dearth of appropriate leadership, the need once more to move the country forward through a massive railway development has arisen with President Akufo-Addo on the mount.
A President in so much hurry, and an unusual commitment to the transformation of his country, one where the railway has been long dead, cannot do without considering this option.
Governor Guggisberg even thought about an extension of the railway system to as far as Paga; a project which did not materialize until President Akufo-Addo re-thought it.
Just why our railway system became moribund after its outstanding contribution to the development of especially, the extractive industry for many years, is beyond our ken.
We are excited about the importance the President has imposed on this sector of the transport system even as the tangible signs, such as contractors being on some sites already, are visible.
The economic activities which would be enhanced when the link between Ghana and Burkina Faso is completed can only be imagined. The President referred to this aspect of the railway development with verifiable details of the journey so far.
The fortnightly meetings between the Burkinabe authorities and their Ghanaian counterparts, engagements held alternatively in the two countries is ample evidence of the seriousness being attached to the project. Indeed a ground breaking ceremony is expected sometime this year, the President has announced.
We encourage a strict adherence to the procurement laws of the land as far as the railway development is concerned. Let there be a heightened transparency because killjoys unhappy that this development is taking place under the President Akufo-Addo government can easily throw spanners into the works so the processes can be delayed to their political advantage.
For all those involved in the resuscitation of the railway system, especially the President and the Railway Development Minister, we wish them Godspeed.