When I got to the site of the Mallam Junction drainage project at about 2.30 p.m last Friday, work was progressing steadily.
It was the fourth day since portions of the roads that connected Awoshie and Kwashieman to Mallam and Kasoa were closed to traffic at the Mallam Junction Interchange to make way for the construction of the drain.
Forty-six-year-old Aziz Osmanu and eight others were busy erecting wooden structures and clearing the debris from an excavated trench and preparing structures that will receive the precast or already-made culverts.
On site was the project Manager, Mr Sun Tao, who was seen issuing instructions to the workers. Police officers from the Odorkor Division of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) were also at the site to secure lives and properties.
Led by Chief Inspector Daniel Attuah, the MTTD officials worked tirelessly to ensure that motorists and other road users did not trespass the area that had been cordoned off for work on the drain to progress.
Meanwhile, the busy road from Awoshie and Kwashieman that connects Mallam and Gbawe at the Mallam Junction Interchange was without motorists because of the diversion.
It was observed that some traders had displayed their wares on the ghost road and cashing in on the public.
Work on the 500-metre double cell culvert drain at Mallam Junction began on Monday, April 30, 2017 and is expected to be completed in 50 days.
The GH¢6 million Mallam drain is among some priority drains that have been earmarked for re-engineering under the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) sanitation project that started in 2015 with a $150 million funding support from the World Bank.
Other priority drains are located at areas such as Gbawe, Kaneshie First Light and Agbogba, while some minor ones are also to be constructed across the 11 assemblies within the Accra Metropolis.
The contractor is China Shanxi Si Jian Group Company Limited and the Engineering and Supervising Consultant is Weruw Consulting.
The project designs and scope of work include the construction of a double cell box drain of 150 meters (M) by 4.0mx2.5m, provision of a reinforced concrete open rectangular channel of 80.0mx7.0mx2.5m, as well as deepening and widening of earth channel of about 230m long.
The capacity of the existing culvert is small and unable to carry the huge volumes of water from the stream into the sea, especially during the rainy season. The situation accounted for the perennial flooding of communities in the area.
It is expected that the new drain project will make room for the free flow of water from the stream and also address the flooding in the area that leaves many people counting their losses any time the rains descend.
Explaining details of the new project last Thursday (May 3), a Sanitation Engineer of the GAMA Sanitation and Water Project, Mr Gabriel Engman, said the project would be done in three phases, involving cutting through the road, excavating and preparing the grounds for the pre-casted culverts to be fixed.
“If you compare the old culvert to the new one that we are constructing now, you will realise that we are doing a double cell box culvert of 3.5 meters in width each, making a total of seven meters while the depth is about 2.5 meters.
“The area of the new culvert is almost six times that of the old one and will help solve the flooding in the area,” he added.
The expansion work on the culvert means that about 60 meters of the road will have to be cut, hence the road diversions in the area.
As part of the arrangements, road traffic flow from Awoshie and Kwashieman that connects Mallam, Weija and Kasoa, that hitherto passed through Mallam Interchange, has been diverted.
Also, traffic from the Odorkor-Mallam, as well as Kasoa-Odorkor roads have been appropriately diverted to alternative routes to ensure that ongoing work is not interrupted.
These diversions mean that for the next two months, the travelling public, including motorists, pedestrians and other road users will have to make some sacrifices in turnaround time.
If what I saw at the time of the visit to the project site last Friday is anything to go by, then there is no doubt that the inconveniences in terms of the flow of traffic will not be as dire as one would expect.
Some road users who shared their experiences about the road diversions said the move was a necessary evil.
“It is true that we sometimes spend some more time on the road due to the diversions but considering the ordeal we go through anytime there is flooding here, we prefer to sacrifice now and be safe when the rains come,” a 35-year-old driver, Kwabena Ofosu, said.
Two scientific studies by UN Habitat – “Accra Ghana: a city vulnerable to flooding and drought-Induced migration” and “The three dimensional causes of flooding in Accra, Ghana” conducted in 2011 and 2014 respectively, pointed out multi-faceted causes of the perennial floods in the capital city.
One of the key causes identified was the poor flow in drainage networks.
A section of the 2014 findings reads: “Accra has an underdeveloped drainage network. Several natural river and stream courses drain the city from the north to the south. Some short sections of these large river channels have been reinforced with concrete dykes.
“Besides these water courses, there are drains that run along most asphalt streets, and much smaller ones laid in some of the small, previously planned neighbourhoods, draining sewerage and run-offs.
“In all, engineered drains are a small fraction of the city’s requirement. Apart from their insufficiency, many have been observed to be undersized, unconnected or improperly channelled. As a result, some floods have been traced to such faulty drains.”
Past experiences have shown that during the peak of the rainy season in the capital city, homes and businesses in areas such as Odawna, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Obetsebi roundabout, Kaneshie, Abossey Okai, Nima and Mallam are inundated with flood water, leading to loss of lives and properties running into millions of Ghana cedis.
Choked, narrow and poorly constructed drains have always been cited as one of the causes of the perennial floods.
It is in the light of this that great importance ought to be attached to the ambitious moves by the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to reconstruct the priority drains under the GAMA sanitation project.
Even as these drains are being constructed to improve the drainage situation in flood-prone areas ahead of the rains, there is the need for attitudinal change in the way we manage waste in the country.
We must collectively resolve to stay away from dumping refuse into gutters since that practice get drains choked and makes them incapable of containing flood water.
Let’s support the “Clean Ghana,” “Adopt a Bin”, “National Sanitation Day” and other initiatives that will help rid the country of filth to keep our drains free from refuse.