Braving the Kasoa traffic, and Central Region glimpses

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

A week ago, when I had to travel to the Central Region for a meeting, I dreaded the thought of experiencing the notorious Kasoa traffic congestion. Well, it being a Friday afternoon, my worst fears were more than realized.

From Weija through Kasoa to Buduburam, as we headed to Elmina, our destination, a short distance from Cape Coast, it was a frustrating snail-pace driving.

Being law-abiding, we were in the ‘official’ queue. However, scores of indisciplined drivers raced past us left and right, on the pavements and the sides of the road. I thought that if there had been even one police officer around, the indiscipline would have stopped immediately.

But where are the traffic police when you need them?!

The slow pace provided the opportunity for me to take note of the sights along the route, marvelling at the fast rate of development from Weija, Kasoa to Buduburam. What splendid houses! What diverse commercial activities! Then there is the veritable building boom that threatens to decouple Kasoa from the Central Region and into the waiting arms of Greater-Accra.

Thankfully, at Buduburam, the traffic madness had reduced and we could pick up some speed to make up for the lost time.

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I recalled that many years ago, when I was quite a regular traveller on that highway, the Accra – Takoradi road, I always wondered why there was so little evidence of farming there, unlike the highways in other parts of the country.

Of course especially on the Accra- Cape Coast section by the roadside there were always heaps of the pineapples for which the area is known; not forgetting the abundance of coconut trees as could be expected on a coastal strip. There were also locations well-known as places where one could buy grasscutters, smoked or unsmoked.

However, currently the story is very, very different, agreeably so. Agricultural activity is evident everywhere.

And the Mankessim Market, had not changed much; it was as sprawling as ever. But now it has steel fencing along the sides of the big roundabout which in years past were almost an extension of the market because traders would spread their foodstuffs or other wares all over the place. I suppose the fencing has solved that problem, apart from providing protection for pedestrians.

Our return journey on Sunday, from Elmina to Accra, was enjoyably different. My fear had been that there might be much traffic, people who had spent the weekend in Takoradi or Cape Coast returning to Accra on Sunday. But I need not have worried. There was very little traffic and so it provided the opportunity to catch more glimpses of the Central Region and admire the sights some more.

Regrettably, not a single newspaper vending place did I see! True, it was a Sunday, but years ago, when Ghanaians had a reading culture, in towns and villages one always saw kiosks and tables clearly marked as newspaper sales points.

Many farms I had seen on Friday, were even more visible, vast stretches of produce, plantains trees, mostly browning corn and cassava. Even the frontage of some houses had plantains growing there!

What spoiled the pleasing picture, was that, depressingly like Accra, in practically every community or village we drove through, the surroundings were dirty. Clearly, even in these small locations people no longer care about keeping their neighbourhoods clean.

A stop at Yamoransa Junction interrupted my thoughts on the sanitation crisis in the country.

It’s a must for many people returning from a trip to the Central Region to stop at that junction, famous for its good quality Fante kenkey, and buy some. That particular type of kenkey goes by the self-explanatory, humorous nickname ‘wo na lɛ ɔkyea wo’ (meaning ‘greetings from your mother’, conveying the idea of a package of the kenkey from a mother being handed over to a son or daughter living elsewhere.)

So we dutifully stocked up on some wo na lɛ ɔkyea wo, which were packed five for GH¢10.00. In the past, as there are so many of the kenkey sellers, each vying for customers, they used to write their names conspicuously on the tables where they had stacked the kenkey, so that they could be sure of return customers.

I noted that, interestingly, at present the sellers, mostly women, have gone high-tech: they have printed labels cellotaped on the packages, with their contact number. At the top of the label, our seller also has a motto “God first” followed by a list of what she sells.

Unfortunately, at Anomabo, what had been a popular rest stop, where in the past tasty Fante kenkey used to be sold, and travellers could use the washroom, seemed to have long gone out of business.

Nevertheless, there was consolation waiting at the Winneba Roundabout. I remembered that there had been a small, but nice rest stop located just after the roundabout, and wondered if that one, too, had closed down.

To my delight, not only was it operating, it is now under new ownership and has been expanded into an attractive venue known as the ‘Dawadawa Bar and Restaurant’. Its washroom was clean, well-kept; and its garden seating looked appealing. Definitely a place to take a relaxed, closer look at on another day.

As indicated, the return journey was the very opposite of what we had experienced on Friday afternoon. Although the Kasoa makeshift market under the interchange was its usual bustling self, my apprehension was unjustified. Almost before we knew it, we were at the outskirts of Accra.

It seems to me that if the Kasoa traffic jams which have given the town such a negative reputation, are to cease, there will have to be an extension of the Kasoa interchange from where it currently ends, right up to Buduburam. The interchange, inaugurated in November, 2016 by then President John Mahama, was said to be the first phase of a project to solve the Kasoa traffic nightmare.

Anyway, it appears that in the future Kasoa will become part of Greater-Accra, in the same way that years ago, many areas near the United Kingdom capital were gradually swallowed up by the city to become what is now known as Greater London.