By Ohemeng Tawiah/Nhyira Fm-Kumasi/Ghana – Government has denied abandoning the Boankra Inland Port Project in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality of the Ashanti region.
The project, which started about ten years ago, is expected to ease import and export services of shippers in the northern sector as well as facilitate transportation of goods to other West African states.
West African states like Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger among others are expected to benefit from the Boankra Inland Port when it becomes operational.
But the project has been at stand still, several years of completing the administration block which is the first phase of three phases of developing primary infrastructure.
The Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport in Ghana’s parliament has been touring the project site to enable legislators acquaint themselves with developments.
The Inland Port project was expected to reduce pressure and congestion at both Tema and Takoradi Sea ports by facilitating cargo transportation into the hinterlands.
The project’s sustainability is said to depend largely on an effective rail system to link the project site to the sea ports.
However, the collapse of the country’s rail system has been described as a major setback in carrying through the project.
About 800 million dollars is needed to revamp the rail system.
Minister of State at the residency and MP for Amenfi West, John Jetuah is attributing the delay in completing the Boankra Inland Port project to lack of funds.
He says revamping the rail system is a capital intensive venture which require large sum of money.
‘’The railway line from Accra to Boankra is capital intensive. It is not a matter of intentional manner that the government has abandoned the project’’.
According to him, government can only complete the project only when it solicits for foreign support.
‘’Government is looking forward to seeing that such project which will actually heap a sigh of relief to the people who are coming from the south to north and those who are coming from the north, we need that’’, he emphasized.
He added it is ‘‘it is a policy issue, it financial issue that we need to solicit before we can actually put in certain measures’’.
‘‘We need to get funds to construct the railway line so that it would be easier for us’’, Mr. Jetuah explained.
Chief Executive of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Kofi Mbiah is confident the project will soon see the light of day as government attempts to revamp the rail system.
He assured his outfit will continue to pursue programs and interventions that will sustain the Boankra Inland Port project.
‘‘This project, if we take our eye off it, if we are not careful the project will die so we have kept our eye on the project so that this project does not die because we believe that it is a very important project’’.
Mr. Mbiah however concedes funding has been the issue in carrying through the project and declined to apportion blame on personalities or institutions for delays in completing the project.
‘‘I know that funding is the issue, we can’t blame anybody. I know that government is making efforts because there are so many competing things that ought to be done and consequently, one at a time, we are going on ’’he said.
According to Mr. Kofi Mbiah, the re-construction of rail network to link the project site and other parts of the country which government has secured funds is a motivating factor for the viability of the Inland port project.
‘‘I am hopeful, that now that government has gotten money for the rail, once the rail works takes off, you will see the impetus and the interest that will come into this project’’ he emphasized.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport, Joseph Boampong is overwhelmed by the significance of the inland port project.
He assured the committee in its report will advise government to support the project he describes as a ‘worthy course’.