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The Ghanaian- European Railway Consortium (GERC), Investors who are to construct the $2.2 billion Eastern Railway line, have expressed their readiness to commence work as soon as possible.

This came to light at the launch of the commencement of negotiations on the concession agreement for the new Eastern line (standard gauge) railway project on Thursday, April 4, 2019, at Peduase, near Aburi in the Eastern Region.

GERC is expected to operate 24 passenger trains and six freight trains after completion of the 340-kilometre railway project. 

The Eastern Railway line, which links Accra, Tema and Kumasi, is expected to boost economic activities along the corridor, especially at the Boankra Inland Port after completion. The construction is expected to last for three years. The consortium has pledged to commence works in earnest.

There would be 6 main stations and 34 sub-stations along the double track corridor. The concession period is 27 years and the consortium hopes to recoup its investment within the period.

Minister for Railways Development, Hon. Joe Ghartey, said the project which is on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis is the first of its kind in Africa.

He stated that the railway that Ghana is seeking to build is a modern one and believes strongly that the sector will transform the economy completely.

He therefore urged the investors to give off their best and also work within the time frame.

The Sector Minister indicated that the outcome of the negotiations would be forwarded to Cabinet and thereafter to Parliament for the necessary approvals.

Executive Director for Project Development for Africa and member of the Consortium, Heinz Kroczek, described the project as "a nation-building project and a game changer for Ghana”.

He said the construction phase will offer about 5,000 jobs and an additional 3,000 jobs would be created after completion.

Additionally, over 500 jobs will be created through the establishment of a concrete sleeper manufacturing plant which is expected to manufacture 1,000 concrete sleepers daily. Ghanaians would be trained in Germany as part of the agreement.

He was hopeful that the project when completed will be a positive step towards the strengthening of the Ghana-German Cooperation.

Minister for Planning, Prof. George Gyan Baffour, indicated Government’s strong intension to revamp the rail sector in the country and emphasized that an enhanced transport system is essential for economic transformation mobility and growth.

For the procurement process, the Ministry first undertook a market sounding event in December 2017 where over 100 foreign and local investors participated. Thereafter in February 2018, 45 firms submitted their proposals indicating their interest. 36 out of the 45 firms met the minimum evaluation criteria and were pre-qualified to the Request For Qualifications (RFQ) stage in April 2018.  In May 2018, 15 firms out of the 36 submitted RFQ documents for consideration. 

Later in July 2018, 8 out of the 15 consortia were pre-qualified to the Request for Proposals stage to submit their Technical and Financial proposals. GERC was adjudged the preferred bidder. This was subsequently approved by the Entity Tender Committee of the Ministry.