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Funding constraints prevented us from executing sky train project – Joe Ghartey

Former Railways Development Minister, Joe Ghartey has blamed the New Patriotic Party government’s inability to redeem its promise of building sky trains in Accra on external forces with an emphasis on budget constraints.

Former Railways Development Minister, Joe Ghartey has blamed the New Patriotic Party government’s inability to redeem its promise of building sky trains in Accra on external forces with an emphasis on budget constraints.

The Essikado-Ketan lawmaker said the project which was expected to reduce traffic congestion in Accra stalled when the terms of the contract and the total contract sum were laid bare.

Speaking about the project on Eyewitness News, Mr. Ghartey said the Railway Ministry’s budget limits for the 2018 fiscal year were a little below what the contract was projected to cost.

“We were approached by South Africans who said they could build the sky trains on a BOT [Build, Operate, Transfer] basis, and the amount of money that they were talking about per kilometer, we did not have it in the budget. What I had been given was a limit of $2 billion and that was supposed to be used for the Tema-Mpakadan railway line and the Western railway line.”

He further elaborated that the number of years the South African contractor and investors wanted to operate the trains before transferring the project to the state was a major disincentive for the continuation of discussions.

“So these people came in 2018 and said they would build the sky trains on the build, operate and transfer basis, and so we signed an MoU with them, and they came back after doing some initial studies and said they are in a position to raise money for the project, and so we should sign a concessional agreement for the trains to be transferred to us after 30 years and that was something we had to look into.”

He also explained that the state needed to run all the necessary feasibility studies to ascertain the viability of the project which was hindered by the outbreak of Covid-19, making it impossible for the South African firm to come down to conduct the studies.

“In 2019 and 2020, the world including South Africa was under lockdown, so these people could not come to do the feasibility studies and that is why I decided to focus on the railway and kept the sky trains on hold.”

The government of Ghana signed the agreement with the South African group, Africa Investment (Ai) SkyTrain Consortium, for the construction of the Accra Sky Train Project in November 2018.

Africa Investment (Ai) SkyTrain Consortium was expected to conduct extensive feasibility studies in nine months and commission the construction by 2020 but none of that is yet to happen five years on.

Ghana bought $2m shares in Sky Train company established in Mauritius – Auditor General

It later turned out that an amount of US$2 million Ghana paid in 2019 as premium to acquire ordinary shares for the development of the Accra Sky Train Project became a net liability.

This was contained in a report by the Auditor General on the Public Accounts of Ghana’s Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions for the period ended December 31, 2021.

In the report, it emerged that Africa Investor Holdings Limited incorporated a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in Mauritius for the purposes of establishing Ghana Sky Train Limited, to develop the Accra Sky Train Project through a concession on Design, Build, Finance and Operate arrangement.

According to the Auditor General’s report, the Government of Ghana through the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund paid US$2 million to Africa Investor Holdings Limited as full consideration for 10 ordinary shares at US$1.00 per share in Ai Sky Train Consortium Holdings (the SPV).

Thus, the premium paid for each share was US$199,999.

The SPV reported a net liability on 31 December 2020.

The Auditor General noted that the investment in the SPV could not be recovered if the Accra Sky Train Project is unable to secure the licencing, and the Executive and Parliamentary approvals.

“We urged Management to continue to monitor the feasibility and the recoverability of the investment in the SPV and make the necessary provisions based on the outcome of the feasibility studies. Management noted the recommendation for compliance”, the audit report recommended.

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