A story of two historic inaugurations in Accra

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

AS a long-time campaigner for the rehabilitation of the Obetsebi Lamptey (OL) Circle, Tuesday, November 24, 2020 was a memorable day for me. It was the day the long-awaited conversion of the OL into an interchange became a reality with the opening of its first phase to traffic. 

This week is also significant for two other project commissionings. They include the inauguration of Phase 1 of the Pokuase Interchange – but that is perhaps a subject for another day – as well as a very moving remembrance ceremony that took place the day after the OL Interchange opening.

On November 25 the main roundabout at Dansoman Estate, in Accra, was named after the late New Patriotic Party leading member, ‘Iron Lady’ Theresa Ameley Tagoe. And to crown the honour, her statue mounted there was unveiled as part of the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of her death on November 25, 2010.

Indomitable ‘T T’, as she was affectionately known, a former MP for Ablekuma South and a Deputy Minister during the administration of President John Kufuor, was also a well-known Dansoman resident.

The Special Guest of Honour at the naming of the ‘Theresa Ameley Tagoe Roundabout’ was President Nana Akufo-Addo. I stand to be corrected, but I believe that this is the first time in Ghana that such a monument has been named after a woman politician.

In view of her pacesetting qualities and role in politics, it is more than fitting that her party and, by extension the nation, have given her this deserved recognition. Well done, NPP!

Addressing the mammoth gathering who trooped there to honour TT, President Nana Akufo-Addo described Ms Tagoe as “a politician of the first rank … A valiant member of our struggle for freedom and democracy in Ghana”. A “dynamic and uncompromising” lady she helped in strengthening the NPP, especially in Parliament.
She was one of four women pioneers who secured seats in Parliament for the NPP, he noted. “The party’s women’s wing, which is growing

from strength to strength, owes Theresa Tagoe, its founder, an immense debt of gratitude," the President added.

In her remarks, the MP for Ablekuma West, which was carved out of the area Ms Tagoe had represented, Communications Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, recalled how Ms Tagoe had encouraged her to stand for Parliament. In effect she had handed her formidable baton to her.

Notably, the two consecutive inaugurations by the President had to do with honouring sterling contributions to the nation’s political history.

However, while the Theresa Tagoe Roundabout naming came as a surprise to me, albeit a pleasant one, the revitalization of the OL is something I have been following for some time. Indeed, I have been a critic of the deteriorated state of the Circle as demonstrated by the following excerpts from some of my previous comments:
Column of May 12, 2017 (‘Accra must sparkle and bloom’):

Why do so many places in Accra look like they are part of an official project to grow and export weeds?
Places whose surroundings look like commercial weeds enterprises include, shockingly the Graphic Road, ending at the Obetsebi Lamptey Circle which at present resembles a forest under cultivation.

June 2, 2017 ('Start of restoration of Obetsebi Lamptey Circle?'):
I see that whoever is supposed to look after the Obetsebi Lamptey Circle in Accra, has finally woken up from their deep slumber.

A few days ago, passing by the Obetsebi Circle it was such a pleasure to see it beginning to look tended again and worthy of the status of the name it bears. The person whom it honours, Mr Emmanuel Obetsebi Lamptey, was one of the ‘Big Six’, credited with leading the fight for Ghana’s Independence.

October 26, 2019 ('Road good news: when will it be the turn of Dansoman?'):
Earlier this week of the long-delayed Obetsebi-Lamptey Interchange. On Monday, October 21, President Nana Akufo-Addo cut the sod for that, fittingly, in the presence of octogenarian Mrs Augustina Obetsebi-Lamptey, whose husband the roundabout is named after.

Going by an artist’s impression of the interchange, it promises to be a very classy structure and a fantastic addition to the Accra skyline.

Naturally, I was elated when it was announced that Phase 1 of the OL Interchange was to be commissioned and opened to traffic. And of course I had to experience the development myself at the earliest opportunity to close that chapter of my OL restoration story.

Therefore, the day after its commissioning, I went on the OL; driving up from the Graphic Road, above the roundabout whose decline had caused such concern in the past, and tapering down to the first traffic lights on the Busia Highway. A happy experience for me after the long wait!

We have been told that work on Phase 2 is beginning immediately; and when completed, there will also be a statue in the picture. Roads and Highways Minister Mr Kwesi Amoako-Atta reportedly stated that a suitable monument will be raised there in memory of Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, after whom the Interchange is named.

I look forward to the project’s early completion and the realization of the promise of, as I wrote last year, “a very classy structure and a fantastic addition to the Accra skyline”.

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