Kwashie-Bu culvert project now death trap

BY: Juliet Akyaa Safo
The present state of the construction site
The present state of the construction site

It has been two years since the Kwashie-Bu culvert project begun. Since then construction on the project has been very slow, frustrating residents living within the catchment area.

The project, which was started with the taxpayers’ money to save the people of Kwashie-Bu and its environs from perennial flooding, has for the past two years put the lives of about 117,220 residents of the Ga Central Municipality at risk.Even though work has begun recently, the pace of progress is worrying, leading to residents calling for expedited action.

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Work on the 5.0m X 2.0m single-cell reinforced box culvert and storm drain project which was also meant to connect Kwashie-Bu to neighbouring communities such as Sowutuom, Santa Maria and Nsawam  been very slow making it impossible for road users and vehicles to ply the route.

The situation has also put the travelling public in a difficulty as residents spoken to explained that commercial vehicles no longer plied that route. 

The culvert located at Kwashie-Bu Blue Kiosk has also become a breeding ground for rodents and reptiles, posing a threat to the public.


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To make matters worse, pupils of Rect Academy and Nannies International School, which are located close to the site of the project, go through difficulty as they always have to meander their way to school.

A visit to the area showed that while concrete has been put on some parts of the culvert, a significant proportion of it is still waiting to receive attention.

Location

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Kwashie-Bu is a suburb in the Anyaa-Sowutuom Constituency and within the Ga Central Municipality in the Greater Accra Region.

Going by the 2010 Population and Housing Census, the Ga Central Municipality consists of 117,220 people with relatively more females (51.1 per cent) than males (48.9 per cent).

It covers a total land area of 103.44km2 with its youth aged 15 and below constituting 34.4 per cent, and the elderly (aged 60 years and older) representing 3.9 per cent of the population.

Most houses in the Kwashie-Bu community are rented out, with majority of the tenants involved in petty trading, tailoring, hairdressing and the sale of foodstuffs.

A school building near the drainA school building near the drain

Reactions of residents

A woman in the vicinity told the Daily Graphic that the stretch of road on which the culvert was to be completed used to serve as a short route to Santa Maria, Sowutuom and even Nsawam, but unfortunately the very bad road and uncompleted project had forced drivers to avoid the area.

“Formerly, we used to just stand in front of our houses and get vehicles to Kaneshie, Accra, Odorkor and other areas, but now we have to walk to the George Walker Bush highway (N1 highway) to board the commercial vehicles to our destinations,” she said.

Another resident, Osman Jausu, also explained that the huge pit dug to construct the bridge now served as a habitation for strange animals.

“Just few weeks ago, I saw a strange rodent-like creature crawling out of the weeds; this is certainly not what we want. We are asking the authorities to come and complete the project.

“See, there are about three schools here, imagine what can happen to the children if these animals attack them,” he lamented.

Other residents also expressed their sentiments, saying: “We are often generally neglected when it comes to developmental works. All we receive are promises, visits and more promises from duty-bearers who either start working on the promised project or do not begin at all.”

“We, however, appeal to the authorities to complete the drains or just fill up the holes dug to allow cars to ply the area,” they added.

Other challenges

Some other challenges within the municipality include poor road network, inadequate drains on the sides of the roads and poor sanitary conditions.

The Daily Graphic also visited an area around Nyamekye, right behind the Kata International Hostel also within the Ga Central Municipality, with equally bad roads.

Residents complained bitterly that the bad nature of the roads had rendered their area “as dead as a cemetery”.

Speaking to one Andrew Mantey, a resident of the area, he said most of the roads in the vicinity served as the fastest route for drivers in case of  heavy traffic on the N1 highway.

“The roads here are very close to the N1 highway, so it is very unfortunate to have such bad roads close to an ultra-modern highway,” he stated.

However, he added that together with some residents, funds had been mobilised periodically to buy broken-down concrete to level the heavily eroded road, but the project became too huge to maintain.

Effect on businesses

A manager at a hotel in the area, Mr James Owusu Asiamah, also said they had experienced a major reduction in revenue over the years.

He noted that as a result, a lot of workers had been laid off to reduce cost and enable the hotel to stay in business.

“Also, our conference rooms have been rented out to churches since corporate groups are no longer interested in hiring our services due to the difficulty in accessing the hotel,” he lamented.

Some opinion leaders interviewed explained that they had tried to level the roads and dredge some drains in the community but were not successful. They, thus, called on the authorities to expedite action to solve the problems raised.Portions of the culvert posing danger to residents, especially schoolchildren in the communityPortions of the culvert posing danger to residents, especially schoolchildren in the community

Duty-bearers

On the issue of the culvert, the Head of the Municipal Roads Department at the Ga Central Municipal Assembly, Mr Alexander Dordor, explained that the slow pace of the project was due to issues such as inadequate funds.

He also indicated that the initial design of the project, which was to be completed within a period of 12 months, could not contain the volumes of water in the area; thus, there was the need to re-design the project and subsequently re-award the contract.

“There was also the issue of shortfall in terms of funding; however, the Department of Urban Roads (DUR) has directed us to start the processes to procure a new contractor, which we have done and the contract awarded to a new contractor.”

“As we speak, the project has begun and will be completed within a period of eight months,” he said.

Attempts to remedy the situation

A visit to the site recently showed that attempts were being made to remedy the situation, as about three men were seen on site clearing debris to make way for the construction.

Some portions of the culvert had, however, collapsed; a situation which a resident explained was as a result of the rains.

Mr Dordor confirmed that the contractor had begun work; however, the rains were interrupting his operations.

Solution to other challenges

Speaking to the Regional Director of the DUR, Mrs Adwoa Doku, on other challenges such as poor roads, she said her outfit was about to begin a project to rehabilitate roads at the Kwashie-Bu, NIC, Sowutuom and New Okaiman areas.

She noted that a 13.3km project which was to begin this month would improve the transportation situation in those areas.

Touching on sanitation issues in the municipality, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of the Ga Central Municipal Assembly, Dr Emmanuel Lamptey, stated that the assembly was poised to enforce its sanitary bye-laws, while calling on the media to support in the advocacy to ensure a clean environment.

“Some weeks ago, residents of Tabora-Alhaji and its environs were asked to clean their surroundings or have their shops closed down. We went the next day and everywhere was clean,” he observed.

For his part, the Assemblyman for the Kwashie-Bu electoral area, Mr Amponsam Asafo Adjei, also explained that he was in constant talks with the authorities of the DUR to facilitate the construction of the culvert and roads in the vicinity.

“We have also implemented some strategies such as frequently embarking on clean-up exercises together with community members to tackle the insanitary conditions in the communities,” he added.

Recommendation and conclusion

It is sad to see a once vibrant community turn dead due to an abandoned infrastructural project whose initial purpose was to make life comfortable for residents.

I am, therefore, appealing to authorities to fulfil their promise of completing the culvert, while solving the numerous challenges raised by the people.

I will also urge residents to support the authorities by playing their part, including desisting from dumping refuse into drains and partaking in clean-up exercises.