Claim: A viral image of a railway line circulated on Facebook with captions purporting that it is a 100km railway project to link Ghana and Burkina Faso.
Verdict: Dubawa’s findings show that the purported image of a completed railway line is not that of Ghana’s 100km railway line linking the country and Burkina Faso. Therefore, the attached image is wrong and the claim is completely false and misleading.
The Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Railway Development announced in 2019 that it has secured a loan to construct a 100km railway.
The railway line is part of the main Ghana-Burkina Faso interconnection project which will link the two West African countries and improve trade relations between them.
The former Minister of Railway Development at the time, Mr Joe Ghartey, revealed that the cost for the first stretch of 100km was expected not to cost more than USD600m. The project was, however, expected to be completed in August 2020 as stated by the Minister.
In a post which has since been deleted by a Facebook user, Nana Hesse Ogyiri and shared by legal counsel to the President at the Jubilee House, Kow Essuman states:
‘’This is the first 100km of the Ghana-Burkina Faso railway line interconnectivity project. #Wearefixingit. attached to the post was an Image of a Railway line.“
The original source of the post was deleted after several concerns were raised about location of the project from pages of both the poster and the sharer.
The post drew the attention of many Facebook users who in sharing it asked if indeed the image was captured from the project site, thus casting doubt on the information. Some persons including a system analyst and cyber security consultant, Yayra Koku Deku, a journalist and business and management consultant, Stan Xoese Dobge and Ras Mubarak, a former Member of parliament for Kumbugu in the Northern Region, have called out the social media users who shared the imaged stating that the image does not originate from Ghana.
The growing virality got the attention of Dubawa to verify the claim.
By using reverse image search, Dubawa traced and found the origin of the photo in contention to the BBC website where the image was credited to Michael Khateli.
The search revealed that the image was originally taken by Michael Khateli, a freelance photojournalist in Nairobi-Kenya in May 2017 during the inauguration of the country’s first major new railway running from the capital Nairobi to the port city of Mombasa. Michael Khateli’s Linkedin account profile describes his current status as a freelance photojournalist based in Kenya.
The image was also featured in the same railway story published on a construction review website by Fidelis John on November 8, 2019.
Checks by Dubawa on government official social media handles and websites proved that no such announcement of completion of the first phase of the project has been made. Again, the circulated railway line image could not be found on the pages.
Further checks by Dubawa on the Ministry of railway development website and subsequent sites which published the earlier story did not have a story of its completion.
After a search through completed projects on the ministry’s website, we only found an image of the former minister and a video of UK-Ghana Trade Investment Forum 2017, which clearly signified that the page had not been updated with any completed project in recent times. It, however, has on the site a published video as an ongoing project.
We also found out that plans to link Ghana and Burkina Faso by rail were first announced on 11th June, 2004 by Christopher Ameyaw who was the Minister for Ports, Harbours and Railways.
The rail was expected to pass through Kumasi in the Ashanti Region through to Dori, 200km northeast of Burkina Capital Ouagadougou.
However, the new rail line will connect Ghana from Tema in the Greater Accra through Mpakadan in the Volta Region.
Meanwhile, construction of the project has been rescheduled to begin in the middle of next year-2022 as 3 bidders have been shortlisted.
Dubawa’s findings show that the purported image of a completed railway line is not that of Ghana’s 100km railway line linking Burkina Faso. Therefore, the attached image is wrong and the claim is completely false and misleading.
Nana Yaa Nyarko