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Year of Roads in year three, how far?

BY: Kobby Asmah

Roads are considered to be one of the critical infrastructure that the growth and development of any country hinges on.

Therefore when citizens hear any news about roads and their construction they become excited and relieved as good roads facilitate the smooth transportation of people and goods from one location to the other but same cannot be said of bad roads.

Importance of roads

More importantly, road infrastructure has become one of the key determinants by which the citizenry measure the performance of a government at anytime as roads bring about massive economic and social benefits.

They link producers, traders and buyers to the markets, workers to jobs, students to school and the sick to hospitals, as well as give a facelift to communities, towns and cities where they are constructed or rehabilitated.

Furthermore, road construction creates jobs as people will be employed anytime there is some road construction or some rehabilitation work being carried out to put the roads in good condition to ensure smooth and safe transportation for all.

Without any doubt, roads make a crucial contribution to economic development by providing access to employment, social, health and education services.

"Year of Roads"

It was therefore refreshing when the government declared the year 2020 as the "Year of Roads". All hopes and expectation were for the government to embark on an aggressive road development across the country.

Although all previous governments that this country has had throughout its nationhood, in one way or the other, contributed in building the road infrastructure of this country, it was the current administration, led by President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, that came out boldly to declare 2020 year of roads.

‘Year of Roads’ is now in its third year — 2020, 2021 and 2022; and while the initiative is still work in progress there is room for improvement for the citizenry to feel its impact and see it not only in the prime areas of our towns and cities but also within the communities in which they live.

Enhance strategy

The slogan "Year of Roads" has resonated so well with the citizenry and while the government is making the efforts to bring into fruition this declaration, there is need to enhance the strategy for the road sector of the country by not only concentrating on major roads and others in prime areas of our cities and towns but those leading primarily to our local communities and residential areas within the various metropolises, municipalities and districts to put them in good shape.

This enhanced strategy in the road construction sector will not only ensure that road projects are evenly distributed across every nook and cranny of the country but will let the citizenry have a real feel and make the slogan " Year of Roads" real as people can attest to and at least have one good road leading to their communities in the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to lessen the burden associated with travelling on bad roads to and from their communities.

Western Accra

For instance, it appears most of the roads in the eastern part of the city are being done or regularly maintained. The western parts of Accra, regrettably, are not seeing such levels of road construction or rehabilitation.

In short, the road network of the country must be in good condition for the benefit of all and sundry no matter where one resides for people to commute easily.

There is reasonable evidence on the ground that the government has done well in improving some of the road network in the country by building new interchanges as well as trunk roads in some parts of the country, with some completed and others still ongoing but the same cannot be said of roads leading to many communities and residential areas within the various metropolises, municipalities and districts across the country.

Therefore it is the hope and expectation of many Ghanaians that the government in this third year of the“ Year of Roads" will take a critical look at the roads sector to ensure that at least residential areas benefit from the construction of one good road under the " Year of Roads " declaration.

Strides made

I cannot conclude without recalling some of the strides made by the government in the roads sector. The government in its 2022 budget statement presented to Parliament last year, indicated that it maintained its focus on routine and periodic maintenance activities to protect the huge investment made in the provision of road infrastructure.

As at the end of September 2021, routine maintenance was carried out on 21,165 kilometres of the trunk road network, 6,265km of the feeder road network and 2,937km of the urban road network.

Within the same period, maintenance activities comprising re-gravelling, spot improvement and resealing works were carried out on 162km, 412km and 262km of the trunk road, feeder road and urban road networks respectively. Additionally, rehabilitation works covering minor upgrading and construction of culverts and drainage structures were carried out on 223km of trunk roads, 173km of the feeder road and 102km of the urban road network.

The Department of Urban Roads also undertook an asphaltic overlay programme in various towns and communities across the country.

Since 2017, about 1,445km of asphalt overlay works have been completed, with 243km done in 2021. According to the budget statement, this year, the government has planned to complete 25,000km, 16,000km and 3,500km of routine maintenance activities (grading, pothole patching, shoulder maintenance, vegetation control) on the trunk, feeder and urban road networks, respectively.

Additionally, periodic maintenance activities (spot improvement, re-gravelling, resealing, asphaltic overlay, partial reconstruction and maintenance of bridges and culverts) will be undertaken on 23km, 800km, and 300km of trunk, feeder and urban roads, respectively.

The ministry will also undertake minor rehabilitation works on 75km of trunk roads, 150km of feeder roads and 30km of urban roads.

Major projects

Furthermore, the government in the budget statement also mentioned some of the major projects that are expected to take off in 2022 as the Accra-Kumasi Dualisation, Kumasi South and Western Bypass, Kumasi Outer Ring Road, Mamfe-Koforidua and Oyibi-Dodowa-Somanya-Akuse junction road.

The rest are Accra Outer Ring Road, Asutuare Junction-Volivo Bridge, Eastern Corridor Road (Gbintiri-Kulungugu) Sawla-Wa

The others are the Buipe, Yapei and Daboya Bridges, Adawso-Ekyi Amanfrom Bridge, Obuasi, Juanayilli and Nawuni Bridges and the construction of five Interchanges in the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area (including Suame, Santasi and Airport Roundabout).

All these are commendable but it is the expectation of many Ghanaians that some premium attention will also be given to roads leading to our communities and residential areas where we live in the MMDAs to lessen the plight of residents.

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