Two companies have teamed up to establish a railway sleeper manufacturing plant at Essikado in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis in the Western Region to boost the government’s efforts at revamping the railway sector.
Accra-based Concrete Products and Logistics Limited (CPLL) partnered Aveng Infraset of South Africa to set up the $10-million facility which will also manufacture other railway accessories.
This came to light when the Minister of Railway Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, led representatives of the two companies to meet with the Omanhene of the Essikado Traditional Area, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, to request for land for the project.
The factory is expected to create jobs, especially for people in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis.
Mr Ghartey indicated that many countries had expressed the desire to invest in the railway sector, but stressed that the country wanted “value for money and competent offers”.
He said operations in the sector appeared “dead” but noted that "looking at the way things are going, very soon Ghanaians will see a drastic change”.
“We are guided by transparency in all our undertakings, as Cabinet has been briefed on our intentions,” he stressed.
Mr Ghartey further indicated that while working on the Western railway lines, "we cannot sit down for the railway company, which has more than 1,400 workers, to collapse”.
Nana Nketsia expressed the hope that the factory would open up the area and also resuscitate the once vibrant railway operations in the region, in particular, and the country as a whole.
“It is quite rewarding that you have decided to build this railway sleeper factory in the country to help in revamping the railway sector, instead of the ministry having to import the sleepers for the railway development project,” he noted.
He reminded Mr Ghartey, who is also the Member of Parliament for Essikado-Ketan, of the onerous task on his hands to develop the railway sector but expressed optimism that the minister was up to the task.
The Obaahemaa of Essikado, Nana Ekua Kodu II, also lauded the initiative by the two companies, while recalling fond memories of once vibrant railway activities which, she said, started in Essikado.
The Chief Operations Officer of the CPLL, Mr Desmond Dickson, indicated that the two companies had been undertaking feasibility studies over the last two years towards the start of the project.
He gave an assurance that the project would start as soon as the two companies had secured a site.
The General Manager/Director in charge of International Operations of Aveng Infraset, Mr Kobus Burger, said the company operated in 30 countries across the world, and that establishing the railway sleeper factory in Ghana would stem the importation of the products.
He stressed that the Aveng Group had taken upon itself the task to create jobs for the youth, not only in South Africa but also across Africa, saying: “It is also our strategy to train local people to become experts in the industry.”
The group presented a cheque for GH¢20,000 to support the Nana Kobina Nketsia IV Trust, which is engaged in social responsibility projects and programmes.