Robbery at tollbooths
Payment of tolls is a civic responsibility no citizen can run away from. It is a way of supporting government’s efforts at providing basic infrastructure and amenities for the common good.
Road tolls fall within this civil requirement. They are for the payment of roads already constructed the maintenance of existing ones or for the construction of future ones.
Whatever the objective, the citizen also has the right to enjoy the benefits of tolls and in the case of road tolls, good road network in a reciprocal manner.
It is sad to say that in this country, tolls have become just another source of collecting money from members of the public without any corresponding services.
Ask motorists, and majority will readily tell you that they see the collection of road tolls as a gigantic fraud being foisted on them by the state. Those who travel on the infamous Eastern Corridor Road, starting from the Tema end of the motorway towards Akosombo, Ho and beyond, are very much aware of the ordeal they go through on a daily basis.
For those who are strangers, this road has the privilege of having along it, Michel Camp, home of the First Battalion of the Infantry Brigade Group of the Ghana Armed Forces.
Under normal circumstances, this is a national institution whose access by road should be conveniently smooth for obvious reasons. In our circumstances, things are not so.
Approaching the Michel Camp from Tema is like heading for a desolate part of the country. Right at the entrance to the camp, this major road has developed into a cluster of potholes, craters and trenches that defy any civilised description.
About two kilometres after this hostile portion of the road, one comes across a signpost signalling a tollbooth ahead. If the signpost is to warn motorists to slow down, then wait, it is not necessary.
A few metres to the tollbooth, the road has suddenly become so bad that you need to exercise great caution to meander through dense forest of obstacles created in the path of the driver.
As if to welcome your money, a short stretch of about 20 metres to the tollbooth has been filled with slabs to give the driver some comfort. You will feel the first jolt just after paying the toll to remind you that your money was not for your comfort and convenience but something else.
Dear reader, as you approach the Afienya township, the surface of the road takes a different turn for the worse until you get to the police station where movement becomes near impossible.
The questions are many and constantly on the lips of every driver who plies this road. What are we paying for? Where does our money go and why would they want us to continue paying and even more, tolls that are invariably making some unscrupulous people in authority richer, while making our bodies and vehicles weaker?
A tolled road is so, because it has certain distinguished features, which do not include bumps, holes and jerks. They tell a story of their own. That, when you pay good money, you drive on good roads.
Ours is an exercise to fill a bottomless pit somewhere our eyes cannot see, but which continues to inflict unnecessary and unending pain on us.