Roads play unique roles in the socio-economic life of societies.
The importance of roads is well appreciated, viewed against the backdrop that they link producers to markets, workers to workplaces, students to schools and the sick to hospitals.
Aside from these, roads are also the key infrastructural input for economic growth process and they promote national integration too.
It is not for nothing, therefore, that the government allocated a whopping GH¢1.3 billion to the Ministry of Roads and Highways in 2019 to execute its mandate of road construction.
The amount represents about 400 per cent increase over the 2018 budget estimate for the ministry and it shows the government’s commitment to improve road infrastructure in the country.
The Daily Graphic has, over time, expressed concern about the deplorable roads in the country and commends the government for the attention it is paying particularly to cocoa roads in the country.
Hitherto, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) took the initiative to rehabilitate roads leading to cocoa-growing areas that had deteriorated to the extent that beans got stuck on farms, as vehicles could not use the roads to cart cocoa.
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That was such a serious development, judging from the important role cocoa plays in the economic development of Ghana.
However, along the line, COCOBOD’s cocoa road projects were suspended by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) when it assumed office in January 2017.
We are happy that the projects are going to be continued next month, having been taken over by the ministry responsible for roads and highways, as announced by the sector minister.
We applaud the decision, since the deplorable nature of cocoa roads has caused farmers a lot of distress, with many cocoa farmers becoming stranded anytime it rains heavily, since the roads that link their farms become completely impassable.
It is good news also because produce will be readily carted from the farms, which will ultimately increase the amount of cocoa and other crops that will be exported and transported to the market centres to enhance the socio-economic growth of the country.
The Daily Graphic thinks that as we direct attention to roads in the hinterlands, the ministry must equally put in place comprehensive measures to address the deplorable conditions of roads across the country in totality.
It is baffling that almost every road in the country is bad. Interestingly, though some of these roads were built or rehabilitated not long ago, they started deteriorating just within six months of their rehabilitation or construction.
We, therefore, urge the ministry to tighten its hold on road inspections and ensure that contractors who do shoddy work are denied their payments.
We are aware that roads should have a minimum period within which any deterioration is surcharged on the contractor. But we wonder whether this is adhered to, judging by the fast rate at which newly constructed roads develop potholes and gullies.
We also ask the ministry to ensure that all categories of road users are safe and secure. Our observation is that we seem to consider only cars, trucks and buses when we are designing our roads.
We have failed to incorporate pedestrian safety facilities in our planning, design, construction and maintenance of road infrastructure.
We call on the ministry, therefore, to ensure adequate road signs and markings and the provision of bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways to reduce the number of accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians.
We take note of the various road projects awarded on contact, including bridges, and urge the ministry on to ensure that the road infrastructure is put in shape for it to play its role in national development.