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Traffic congestion in Accra: A call to action for sustainable solutions

Traffic congestion in Accra: A call to action for sustainable solutions

In Ghana, it is typically unusual for roads to be free of congestion. Road traffic congestion remains a global phenomenon that plagues Ghanaian cities, particularly, Accra. The roads that once symbolised, freedom, flexibility and motion now causes severe delays, unpredictable travel times, higher fuel use, and financial loss. Long-lasting and intolerable traffic jams are the outcome of the phenomena, which has its roots in the poor nature of roads and traffic management.

Many residents across the country are concerned about traffic congestion. The situation has improved in some areas but deteriorated in others. However, it is the most common source of concern for commuters across the nation. Some shared their displeasure.

“Ideally, the journey from Ablekuma to Kasoa should take about 45 minutes to an hour, but at times we spend three solid hours and even more. Some of the routes to Kasoa are in a very poor state. My car needs proper servicing because most of the parts are damaged due to the nature of the roads. I keep spending so much to top up my tank, because the long stay in traffic drains it all.”
“The government needs to fix the bad roads for us and also repair the faulty traffic lights because that is another challenge we face in almost every part of Accra and it is very appalling.” Robert, a driver at the Ablekuma station lamented.

Our city’s streets tell a story of paradoxical progress. Initiatives like the Metro Mass and Ayalolo transit systems once offered hope for a solution to the urban traffic issue that was becoming more of a problem. For a city in transition, these systems, built to accommodate lots of people, which offered positive outlooks. Yet, hey have been left by the way side, in spite of their potential.
Keziah Nkansah, a student at the University of Ghana, relies on public transportation to get to campus daily, she tells me the lack of reliable public transportation is a nightmare. “I often arrive late to class. I sometimes get to class and start dozing off while class is in session due to the stress from staying in traffic for long hours, which makes me loss focus, and this has an effect on my performance in class,” she stated.

She pleaded with the government to revive the government public transport systems.
Adwoa Asaaba’s case is not different, she lamented, “I wake up as early as 3am to travel from Manhea to Accra, ensuring I arrive in Makola early to sell my tomatoes to avoid losing money from my customers. Sometimes, my goods get rotten because it traps heat when the shop is not opened early for ventilation.”

She recounted how she made losses because her customers had purchased somewhere else, due to her late arrival.
According to Adwoa, a ready market at Manhea would prevent long-distance travel to Makola on daily basis,” Adwoa stated.
She praised the Metro mass and Ayalolo bus services for reducing traffic congestion, formerly in town, urging the government to implement measures to bring it back onboard.

What do the expert say?
Speaking with Mr. James Amoo Gottfried- Director of Urban Roads, he stated the Ministry sees congestion as an operational challenge, which is being resolved gradually.
He explained that congestion is caused by specific areas and spaces, land use and settlement patterns, city form, and barriers to movement. He cites the Burma camp road, airport roads, and Teshie as examples of urban forms that create large land that cannot be penetrated. He mentioned other factors like narrow roads, bad surface roads, and drivers’ indiscipline which contributes to the factors of traffic congestion.

The Way Forward
Mr. Amoo agrees with commuters that the city needs a comprehensive solution to address traffic congestion. He notes that until the causes of the congestions are identified, there will be no solutions. “Once we improve on the alternatives for people to use, then we are more likely to reduce the congestion at particular sections of our network.”

He admitted that the Metro mass and Ayalolo bus services face some challenges, but has brought plans to the Ministry, earlier this year to revive it soon. He added, “The Ministry of Roads and Highways, through the Department of Urban Roads has a project called the Accra East Corridor Project, and through this initiative, the Mahama road, the Burma camp road, the Teshie link, the Rasta road and quite a number of roads have been constructed on that corridor.”

He professed that the Ministry is committed to constructing other interchanges especially, in Tema Community 18, Ashaiman and Trassaco junction. He says there are areas where the Department is widening the roads to increase its capacity.
“The Area Wide Traffic Signal Control has been established for construction on the Ofankor to Nsawam road, reducing traffic congestion in Achimota from two hours to 30 minutes. Most projects halted due to the debt exchange programme will be completed by the end of this year,” the Director assured.

He further stated that development project takes a longer period to prepare, procure and deliver. He expressed confidence in the progress made, stating that although much work is being done, the Ministry is hopeful that they will achieve their goal.

Source: Judy Yayra Avanu
A Level 300 student
University of Media Arts and Communications- Institute of Journalism
Departments of Journalism and Media Studies.

Traffic congestion in Accra: A call to action for sustainable solutions

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