The Ministry of Railways Development has reiterated that the Ghana-Burkina Faso Railway Connectivity project is on course.
A statement issue by the Ministry, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency, said the Joint Committee of Experts, led by the respective Minister’s responsible for railway development in Ghana and Burkina Faso, have been meeting since March 9, to review and validate the draft Final Report of the Feasibility Studies submitted by the Transaction Advisors.
It said the comments and inputs from the Technical Experts were expected to be incorporated in the Final Report and submitted by the Transaction Advisor to enable them proceed with the next steps.
It said that the submission of the Final Feasibility Study Report would conclude the first phase of the project development.
The statement recalled that the Governments of Ghana and Burkina Faso, led by their respective leaders, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, during a state visit to Burkina Faso in May, 2017, agreed that railway interconnectivity between the two West African neighbours was an important factor to accelerate economic growth and development for the mutual benefit of the two nations.
It said further to the decision of the Heads of States, a Joint Committee of Experts was established by a Memorandum of Understanding dated January 16, 2018, between the two States, to facilitate the implementation of the railway interconnectivity.
It said the Joint Committee has since its establishment held 12 meetings, alternating between Accra, Ouagadougou, Bolgatanga, Manga and Koudougou.
It noted that the two countries upon the recommendation of the Joint Committee of Experts, agreed on the need to engage Transaction Advisors, whose role is to assist the Governments of Ghana and Burkina Faso to review/undertake various studies and also assist in a procurement process to engage a private sector investor(s) to develop the proposed Railway Interconnectivity Project between the Port of Tema and Ouagadougou, on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.
The statement said subsequently, on 16th November, 2018, a consortium of two firms, Messrs TEAM Engineering S.p.A. of Italy and Messrs Vision Consult Limited of Ghana were engaged as the Transaction Advisors for the project after going through the procurement process under the Ghana Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) as amended.
It said Messrs TEAM Engineering S.p.A. developed the Ghana Railway Master Plan in 2013 and are currently reviewing the plan to expand the rail network to meet present demands and to create an efficient rail transportation that will link important mineral potentials and centres of economic development; such as, free zone enclaves and industrial parks.
The statement said Messrs Vision Consult Ltd was currently leading a consortium to undertake feasibility studies for the Central Spine Railway Line from Kumasi to Paga.
It said the combined expertise of the two firms, who are already conversant with the proposed existing alignment and also already possess the primary data to execute the assignment, cannot be over-emphasised.
The statement said the development of the project is being carried out in four phases.
These include Phase 1: Feasibility Studies; Phase 2: Procurement of Private Sector Partner; Phase 3: Analysis of Technical Studies by Private Partner; and Phase 4: Construction and Supervision.
It said the Feasibility Studies, which commenced in December, 2018, as part of the first phase of the project development are at the final stages of completion.
It noted that so far, the Transaction Advisors had submitted three deliverables or reports, which had been reviewed and validated by the Joint Committee of Experts from both countries.
It said the Inception Report was submitted by the Transaction Advisors and was discussed and approved here in Bolgatanga on 5th April, 2019.
The statement said subsequent to the Inception Report, the Transaction Advisors submitted a Pre-Feasibility Report, including the preliminary alignment for the proposed railway line as the second deliverable.
It said the report was reviewed and validated by the Joint Committee of Experts on 9th October, 2019 in Manga, Burkina Faso.
It said the alignment or route of the proposed railway line between the Port of Tema and Ouagadougou has been approved by both countries to allow for the acquisition of the right-of-way for the construction of the railway line.
With regards to the Proposed Route/Alignment, the statement said, the proposed route or alignment starts from Tema through Mpakadan, which was currently under construction and expected to be completed by August, 2020.
It said the line would continue from Mpakadan and would go through Hohoe, Nkwanta, Bimbila, Yendi, Tamale, Walewale, Bolgatanga, Paga, Po, Zabre, Tenkodogo, Manga and terminate at Ouagadougou.
It said in line with Government policy to connect all regional capitals by rail, a connection to the capital cities of Ho, Dambai and Nalerigu would be done.
It added that branch line would also be constructed to Sheini to provide rail access to the huge iron ore deposits that had been discovered.
The statement said the total length of the line, including the branch lines was approximately 1,200km.
Touching on the economic potential of the Line the statement said the corridor had huge economic potential following the discovery, in commercial quantities, of mineral resources like iron ore, bauxite and manganese.
It said other potential traffic include, petroleum products, agricultural products, manufactured goods, construction materials, containerised cargo and passengers.
The statement said the second phase of the project development, involving the procurement process for the private sector partner had also commenced simultaneously with the conduct of the Feasibility Studies.
It said the two countries, through the Joint Committee of Experts, agreed to the following procurement process.
It said the process involves going through the following three stages of screening: Expression of Interest, Request for Qualification and Request for Proposal.
The statement said the Expression of Interest advertisements were simultaneously published in Ghana and in Burkina Faso in April, 2018 and a total of 16 firms expressed interest to undertake the project on BOT basis.
It said the Expression of Interest Proposals were jointly opened in Accra on May 28, 2018.
The statement said after evaluation of Expression of Interest proposals, 12 out of the 16 firms met the minimum evaluation criteria and were therefore, shortlisted to the next stage of the procurement process, that is the Request for Qualification (RfQ) stage.
Touching on the Request for Qualification Stage, it said the RfQ documents were issued to shortlisted firms in January, 2019 and the deadline for submission of qualification documents by the firms was 6th May, 2019 after the initial deadline of 25th March, 2019 was extended by an additional 30 working days following requests for extension by some of the bidders.
The statement said by the deadline of 6th May, 2019, four consortia out of the 12 shortlisted consortia submitted RfQ documents for consideration.
It said the RfQ documents were opened on 6th May, 2019 in Accra, in the presence of representatives of the firms/consortia who responded to the invitation.
It noted that the official Tender Opening ceremony was co-chaired by the Minister for Railways Development and the Burkina Faso Ambassador to Ghana, Pingrenoma Zagre.
Adding that also present were the Members of the Joint Committee of Experts from Ghana and Burkina Faso, the Transaction Advisors (Messrs TEAM Engineering S.p.A./Vision Consult Ltd.), officials from the Ministry of Railways Development, Ghana Railway Development Authority, Ghana Railway Company Ltd, as well as, members of the Press.
It said the Joint Evaluation Committee that evaluated the Expression of Interest proposals reconvened to evaluate the RfQ documents submitted by the four Firms/Consortia using the criteria set out in the RfQ.
The statement said following the evaluation of the RfQ documents submitted and based on the criteria for evaluation, the Joint Evaluation Committee recommended that three firms substantially met the minimum criteria and should be pre-qualified for consideration for the next stage of the procurement process (i.e. Request for Proposal stage).
It said the three Firms/Consortia that substantially met the minimum evaluation criteria, arranged are: African Global Development Sarl / Race Consulting Engineering LP / Kalliergos O.T.M. Consulting Engineering Company S.A. / NS-A Corp / Stichting Actieve Ondernemers Begeleiding.
Others are China Railway No. 10 Engineering Group Co. Ltd. / China Railway Engineering Design and Consulting Group Company Ltd. / Strategic Initiatives Ltd; and Frontline Capital Advisors / Mota-Engil Group / Deutsche Bahn (DB) / Siemens AG / AIIM / GIBB / Quadrante / AB & David.
It noted that however, Frontline Capital Advisors have had their operating license as a Fund Management Company withdrawn by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“The question as to whether or not this will affect their further participation in the process is currently under review,” the statement said.
“We are seeking advice from the Attorney-General on the subject matter. We will, not allow this to delay us unnecessarily.”
It said the recommendation by the Joint Evaluation Committee from the Request for Qualification stage was currently going through an approval process to enable the issuance of the Request for Proposal to the pre-qualified firms as the third stage of the procurement process.
It said the draft Request for Proposal document had been prepared by the Transaction Advisors and currently being discussed for approval by the Joint Committee of Experts.
The statement said it was expected that the Request for Proposal would be issued within April, 2020 and the prospective investors will be given a period of two months to study the relevant technical reports and submit Technical and Financial Proposals for consideration.
Regarding the Heads of States’ Committee of Eminent Persons, it noted that a six-member Committee of Eminent Persons, three representatives each from Ghana and Burkina Faso, had been constituted to be in charge of the last stage of the procurement process and would make recommendations to the two Heads of States for their decision on the preferred private sector partner.
On Timeline for Negotiations and Signing of Contract with Private Sector Partner, the statement said upon the submission of the recommendation of the Committee of Eminent Persons and subsequent approval by the Heads of States of Ghana and Burkina Faso, negotiations would commence with the preferred private sector partner to reach a common ground for the signing of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Agreement and Financing Closure.
“Without any hinderance, we expect the negotiations to commence in August and concluded within a period of one month to pave way for the commencement of the construction phase of the project,” the statement said.