Public Agenda (Accra)

24 August 2009

Ghana: Reflections of a Visiting Diasporan

opinion

Accra — I left the country in 1980 and returned for the first time in 1999. Accra had grown in population, housing and traffic. Several new suburbs had sprung up and small villages like Madina and Adenta had grown into mega towns in their own right. After two more trips home, one in 2003 and then in 2004 and currently visiting, I have made a few observations.

Space does not permit a detailed discussion of some major accomplishments especially in electricity and water delivery and telecoms. Those responsible should be highly commended.

However, two areas that seem to have retrogressed are the roads and traffic. In two weeks I have driven in Accra, Winneba, Cape Coast, Sekondi, Takoradi and Apowaa. I have been appalled by the condition of the roads everywhere. There are pot holes galore, ranging from a few inches to several feet deep. Besides, there does not seem to be any form of traffic management on many of these roads. Apart from a few intersections with signal lights, most intersections are a free for all. No wonder there is gridlock at these intersections during most of the day. To make matters worse, to avoid the heavy traffic in the inner city areas especially in Accra, people drive through alleys and between homes. The conditions described above have only gotten worse since 1999. The unfortunate impression I have gotten these past two weeks is that people seem to accept these conditions as normal.

The question that has been nagging me is whether our past presidents and cabinet ministers drive on these same roads and experience these same horrific conditions that I have described? I don't believe it requires knowledge of rocket science to know what to do about these conditions. I have a few rather inexpensive suggestions.

  • Install traffic signals at all major intersections.
  • Add left turn signals at these intersections.
  • There should be adequate intervals for the light changes to allow one stream of traffic to clear before the next stream begins to move.
  • Have traffic cops near these intersections to issue on-the-spot tickets to violators.
  • Once a month all untarred roads should be graded to level them out pending the time budget allocations would enable the roads to be properly surfaced with bitumen or asphalt.
  • New roads being built should be given enough depth of concrete and asphalt to last at least ten years.
  • Incompetent road contractors should be deleted from government-approved road contractors lists.

For the past twelve years or so Ghana has been touted by the international community as one of the few Sub-Saharan countries with "good governance". However, good governance does not mean much in the lives of ordinary people who use these roads if government cannot provide such simple conveniences as smooth roads and sensible traffic management.

Sincerely,

Charles C. T. Blankson, Ph.D.

NT 119/2 Ntakorfa, Winneba

Contact number: 020 819 4214

cblankson@sbcglobal.net

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