Many Ghanaians were excited when the Kufuor Administration decided to put on the ground, what had been on the drawing board for years to transform the huge Tetteh-Quarshie roundabout into a modern traffic interchange.
The reasons for this were many: First, Tetteh-Quarshie had become a major central point from where traffic moved in various directions and its major transformation would to enable it to redirect and ease traffic flow.
Second, since it was named after a great son of the land who was instrumental in bringing cocoa to Ghana which has become the mainstay of the national economy, it was only fair to expect that the place would be developed to international standards as a monument befitting the memory of the person after whom it was named.
Third but not least, at the time that programme was initiated we were approaching the Golden Jubilee of nationhood, and we were expecting that the new Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange would be one of the monumental birthday gifts for the country as we prepared to journey through another 50 years of national development.
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Strange to relate, after its completion and opening to traffic, the government did not show any enthusiasm to do any official inauguration, which was contrary to the culture of our political leaders who are too eager to inaugurate even the smallest of projects with a lot of fanfare. This naturally aroused suspicion that something might have gone wrong.
It did not take too long for us to realise that the Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange was after all a mistake. The poor design work did not meet the expectation of many as we realised sooner than later that the interchange which was supposed to be a masterpiece of engineering work that would add beauty to the national capital and facilitate free flow of traffic turned out to be the opposite.
Upon questioning, we were told from some sources that as part of cost-cutting measures, the government ordered the downgrading of the original design.
It does not need any technical mind to notice that the Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange has serious design defects which have made nonsense of beauty and free traffic flow.
One visible feature of the interchange which without any doubt is one of the most horrible bottlenecks in road construction is a roundabout which blocks traffic coming from Accra towards Tema and those coming from the Spintex Road trying to make contact with the interchange.
On normal days, traffic between Accra and Tema via the motorway and from the Spintex Road is heavily impeded because of that ubiquitous roundabout which defies any engineering logic.
Matters were compounded and made worse, when the government granted permission for a huge shopping mall to be constructed at the interchange. This increased the human and vehicular traffic and the accompanying frustration of motorists.
As stated earlier, on normal days, the traffic situation could be very bad. It becomes worse on special occasions such as weekends and holidays when attendance at the shopping mall increases. On such occasions, vehicular movement is virtually at a standstill.
The decision to scale down the design of the interchange may sound prudent at the time it was made, but as things stand now, it is more or less like saving money today to suffer tomorrow.
An attempt to ease traffic at the interchange by constructing a by-pass from the Polo Grounds to link up with the Spintex Road is moving so slowly that many are wondering if it would ever be completed to serve the purpose.
City authorities are still unable to define the status of the Spintex Road, one of the busy roads that discharges into the Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange. From the Sakumono end, it begins as a single-lane road till the Flower Pot area, where it expands into a dual carriageway. Then getting close to the interchange, it narrows again as a single lane.
Meanwhile so heavy is the traffic that the least obstruction in the form of an accident or otherwise quickly builds it up and compounds the already bad situation.
By all considerations, Tetteh-Quarshie still remains a major obstacle because vehicles on the N1 from the direction of Achimota going to Tema or the Spintex Road come to meet the poor design work at Tetteh-Quarshie which slows down everything.
The lesson we should learn from the Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange is that: Accra is not just a national capital; it is also a fast-growing city and any new road development project should factor in this reality in the design work.
Work is expected to start very soon, hopefully by the middle of the year, on the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange. We hope the engineers and politicians are not going to do a piece of shoddy work in the name of cost cutting.
The Kwame Nkrumah Circle is more or less the city centre and it bears the name of the great Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the Founder of the Republic of Ghana, a man who had shown great vision and foresight in all his plans for this country.
We should, therefore, not do anything that would demean the image of the man. Monuments are not built or erected for the fun of it but for serious purposes. Any edifice named after Nkrumah should command respect befitting the man.
The Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange in its present form has done very little to project the image of the man after whom it was named. The little money we claimed we saved yesterday is wasted because we are going to spend tenfold or more of that money to bring Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange to appreciable international standards that could make this nation proud.
Until we do that it will remain a monster that would continue to devour our precious time and limited fuel and raise our blood pressure to dangerous levels.
Article by Kofi Akordor