Poor state of roads in the country
Poor state of roads in the country

Potholes Epidemic - Occasional Kwatriot - Occasional Kwatriot Kwesi Yankah writes 

Traveling from Accra to Koforidua through Aburi last Saturday, I had chosen a friendly route enabling me to wind my way up Aburi mountains, descend by Peduase Lodge then enjoy the long stretch to Mamfe before turning towards my destination.


The smooth ride suddenly gave way at Mamfe, handing me over to a contingent of prickly potholes that welcomed me and burst into prolonged laughter in mockery of my self-delusion. The Potholes Command gave me a rough and jumpy ride all the way to Koforidua.

The GPS technology I am learning to use had said I was 15 kilometers away, forgetting to add, ‘Potholes Allowing.’ Close to Adawso, five or six boys of school going age, an Ananse workforce were having a field day. They hurriedly scooped soil from the bush sprinkling it across a few potholes, then stretched their hands for a tip. In afterthought, I realized the boys were probably requesting their fair share of the road fund.

The story is same almost countrywide: Accra to Dodowa: potholes. Road constructed in 2015, potholes; 2016, potholes; even 2020, potholes; Mankron Junction-Akwakwaa, box holes; Nsawam-Asamankese, road-caves, Winneba-Swedru, potholes; Swedru-Akroso, chamber pots.

Who are these pothole constructors? 2019, I confronted a Chinese contractor working on the Bawjiase-Swedru stretch. He had used mud as his base over one kilometer from Mankron junction. Vehicles plying the road were dancing on foam only a week after job completion. I confronted the skinny manager, and posed him a query almost ready to throw a blow. Would he use mud as his base, to construct roads in China? I fumed, picked my phone and reported him to Cape Coast urban roads. Within a week, he was compelled to scrape all work done, and redo.

But driving across the country and noticing the canker country-wide, drivers have learned to cope. When dodging a pothole, and an oncoming vehicle is smaller, keep moving since you haven’t seen it. Driver may politely yield or step into the bush out of respect for seniors.

In a few unfortunate cases, an insolent driver may point a sour thumb at you, but don’t worry. If oncoming vehicle is a tipper truck, kindly beat a quick retreat into your lane, humming the song, ‘it is well with my soul.’

In case of a multiple spread of potholes ahead and around, consider yourself trapped in enemy territory. You are under siege; but do not panic.

Simply glide gently and softly along. Rough ride on steep potholes could be suicidal. Go gently and ride rough only when persuasion has failed. But watch out for hidden caves and box holes concealed and camouflaged in rainy seasons. Careless trampling may rouse them from sleep and delay your trip.

Where multiple potholes come in rapid succession don’t be tempted to zoom across. The entire frame of your jalopy may quake and rattle; car tyres and ‘shocks’ may wail and writhe in pain. It is however the passengers that suffer the most. Stomach entrails toss and turn; empty tummies twirl and growl. If your accompanying luggage includes hot oily meals, be ready to suffer casualties.

After the rocky stretch, just check your soup bowl in the booth (or rather ‘boot.’) Palm oil may have spilled, dribbling its way around the lid. If you are a diarrhea patient, please exercise divine self-control. Clasp your hand in prayer. Providence may listen to your prayer and give you a safe and dry passage. 

To curtail all this unforeseen trauma, should the Roads ministry not put up warning signs at vantage points such as. “Pot holes ahead: please tighten your seatbelt.” Or “Approaching 400 meters of potholes: prayer warriors please take note.”

Where all this fails, you still have an option. As a good citizen, don’t hesitate to drive or walk to your Member of Parliament, DCE, Assembly man and say, ‘Eeeeeebei, Really? Yoo. Thank You’ and walk away. They will understand your coded message.

No wonder picketing and demonstrations are visible from day to day on local TV channels. Roads are blocked by angry youths, with elders and chiefs wrapped in red, and singing with red eye balls: ‘Y’ani bre, y’ani abre koor… Y’ani abre y’ani abre koor…’ In all this, a fair number of protestors are known allies of the ruling party but care less; demos about shoddy roads compel our big men to sit up. Happily, even though eyes are red in such protests, no damage is caused to property. The local liquor is often not in attendance; you can tell from the odorless breath from song choruses. 

In all these protests, we probably don’t consider the other side of the story: retail traders praying for more potholes and shoddy roads so they can do brisk business. Ask traders at Adoagyiri and A1 bread sellers. Potholes may be bad for drivers, but best for sellers of ‘brodo’, ‘atwommor,’ ‘pooloo,’ ‘bofrot,’ ‘tsofi,’ boiled groundnuts. Let the DCE spread bitumen surface and smoothen the roads, bread sellers and friends may silently protest, stopping short of saying ‘please, bring back the potholes.’ 

Go to several villages across Ghana. The pain of potholes is sometimes reversed through a twist of local mischief. Where they grow bigger, village potholes are converted to refuse dumps by youth Samaritans; and passing drivers may even say thank you.

My greatest eye-opener was at a village close to Asikuma in the Volta region on your way to Hohoe. A few years ago, our vehicle and others got stuck in a muddy trench after a heavy downpour; and we had to take turns to be pushed to safety. As four boys rolled their sleeves and pushed our vehicle, one of them made a confession on one side of his lips. 

“Massa, during the rainy season that’s how we also eat. After a heavy rain, we come in the night and dig trenches in the muddy waters. That way vehicles get trapped, and we get our job. As we push the vehicles, we get money to buy food for the day.”

We listened wide-eyed.
Meanwhile, we have a ubiquitous minister for roads and highways, who has all the solutions and nobody else. His typical work gear is a large straw hat signaling crisis on hand. A bridge collapses in Tamale: here comes Hon Amoako Atta.

Accra-Tema motor way project delays: Amoako Atta. Shoddy work by road contractors, Amoako Atta yells at them. Kasoa-Winneba road construction: Amoako Atta. Swedru-Oda road struggling for years: Amoako Atta’s fault. Adeiso-Swedru road: ‘Where can I get Amoako Atta.’


Potholes on Mamfe-Koforidua road: ‘can we see Amoako Atta? Potholes behind my window in Accra: ‘where is Amoako Atta?’ The man is never seen in normal times. We are currently wrapped in a national crisis that requires frequent sighting of the Minister’s straw hat. 

In all this however, let it not be said Ghana’s Pothole epidemic, including that behind my window, was waiting for one solution which has now arrived. The IMF Loan. 

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