A Ghanaian firm comprising international companies from Canada, the UK and US, has been mandated to work with the Ghanaian government to develop, build and finance an arterial highway system and tolling regime, costing US$750mn. This will ultimately link land-locked west African countries with the Ghana’s port of Accra.

Arterial Toll Roads Company comprises US development and construction firm Savarino Construction Services, Canadian design and structural engineering company Kamco Consulting and UK construction and engineering company PW Ltd with its Ghanaian subsidiary PW (Ghana) Ltd.

The project company is completing a concession and tolling agreement to dualise the major roadways in Ghana, starting with the Kumasi-Accra route that links Ghana’s two main commercial centres. This is currently two lanes and 230km in length. It travels through a number of towns and villages and takes over five and a half hours to transverse. It is a major truck route that links land-locked west African countries to the port of Accra, is fraught with accidents and has hindered the development of necessary infrastructure to enhance the lives of its citizens.

Tolling is believed to be the essential tool to develop the road infrastructure that is needed to help create the necessary middle classes for the western democratic African nations to take a next step towards development. “The need is there, the expertise is there, and we believe that the financing is available to substantiate proof of performance,” claims one of the contractors.

The sponsors have agreed to provide full financing for the construction of the highways, including all ancillary services, and to operate the highways as toll roads during the concession period.

Funding will be from commercial and private finance, probably using the sponsors “own banks and US Ex-Im Bank, as well as a small number of local Ghanaian investors.

The sponsors are in discussion with a number of Ghanaian government sources and investment funds from various parts of the world, as the Accra- Kumasi Roadway is only the first road to be dualised. “This is a long-term project for Ghana and will encompass close to 1,000km within the next two decades,” claim the sponsors. “There are many social and economic fundamentals in play here that will have a profound effect on Ghana.”

The project will include toll plazas, rest stops, service stations, restaurants, overnight parking areas, landscaping and accident reception areas.

The schedule provides for the commencement of phase 1 of construction in early 2006 to complete a major portion (100km) of the roadway, from Accra north to Anyinam by the end of 2008. This will cost US$250mn.
Phase 2 will continue the project from Anyinam to Ejisu to link with the to be completed Ejisu to Kumasi section with completion by 2011.

One goal of the project is to integrate with existing modes of transport such as air, bus and rail. The ability to access bus, rail and air travel at future integrated terminals has to be a goal of the roadway syatem, say the sponsors.