A few years ago, one of the expatriate managers at my former work place made an observation which continues to inform me about the Ring Road in Accra.
He used to live in East Cantonments and preferred exploring Accra over the weekends without his driver. He came back to the office on Mondays with a story to tell about his Accra adventures over that weekend. His new discoveries in the capital amazed some of us who had lived in Accra for greater part of our adult lives. Whenever we asked him how he is able to navigate around, his simple answer was, “with the Ring Road, you never get lost. It will always take you home”. The Ring Road later took him to explore all the sunny beaches to the West of the country.
The Ring Road has a lot of attractions and distractions, the good, the bad and the ugly. It hosts three flyovers, Dr Ako Adjei interchange, King Tackie Tawiah overpass and the Accra-Dubai interchange at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. According to Wikipedia, the Ring Road extends from the Korle Lagoon in the West, north of the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, followed in the East to the junction of the Independence Avenue and continuing to Osu and beyond, thus forming a ring around the oldest districts of Accra.
Earlier this week, I purposely made the over four kilometer journey from the west end to the east end not because I wanted to trace my way back home but to see the Accra Metropolitan Assembly’s (AMA) commitments on that historic road. I wanted to see how the Ring Road is being prepared or not to the dream of Accra being the beautiful city on this continent.
As a long stretch, the entire road has two of the busiest roundabouts in Accra, in terms of vehicular traffic. Negotiating the Danquah Circle at the Osu end linking Osu Oxford Street, Labone, Cantonments, Ridge and beyond could get irritating most times as some drivers refuse to obey rules about who has the right of way at a roundabout. So also does the Obetsebi Lamptey roundabout on the west linking Kaneshie and beyond, Graphic Road and the Korle Bu Road. This roundabout is also a hell to get through, especially during peak hours.
Both roundabouts have some of the most troubling commuter bus drivers also known as “tro-tro” drivers. They butt in at their will and will not heed to anyone, not even the police officers who are stationed there. Both roundabouts could do with some make-overs by the Department of Parks and Gardens. And so also, the entire flower beds running through the middle of the road, left withered and trampled on by street hawkers.
Accra Metropolitan Assembly
The Ring Road must be a milking cow for the AMA in terms of property rates. From the far east to the far west, the road has very active commercial businesses spanning financial institutions, eateries, hotel, shops, offices, the Fire Service, the Police Headquarters, Nima Police Station, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation tucked in there, State Housing Company and State Transport Company. It also hosts numerous bill boards sitting in the flower beds along the stretch.
With all these establishments and billboards populating the Ring Road, AMA no doubt could do a lot better keeping the surroundings more attractive and worth the rate payers’ money. Activities of unsightly street hawkers are very rife. They have taken over the flower beds on the Ring Road Central with their daily stock littered about.
The pathetic thing about street hawking on the Ring Road is that the active selling takes place right under the noses of the Fire Service office, the Police Headquarters and the Nima Police Station. Imagine a fire engine rushing out to an SOS call with all these hawkers lined up.
The Police Headquarters has been nicely painted up recently but the untidy hawking business was not seen as a mess? It is good to know that just this week, the police and officials of the Ayawaso East Municipal Assembly commenced an exercise to clear broken down vehicles, scrap metals, motorbikes and other unsightly items left on the Nima Highway.
How one wishes that someone could in the same spirit clear street hawkers from the Ring Road side of the Nima Police Station, the Police Headquarters, the Fire Service station and indeed, the entire stretch of the Ring Road, once and for all.
If AMA sees street parking on unapproved roads and highways as violation of their by-laws, then one wonders what the same by-laws say about street hawking which is not only a nuisance but also a major risk to lives and properties.