Accra-Tema Motorway potholes patched up

BY: Isaac Yeboah
A section of the patched road where drivers previously struggled to manouvre
A section of the patched road where drivers previously struggled to manouvre

Yet again, the Mobile Maintenance Unit of the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) has filled up the many potholes on the Accra-bound side of the Accra-Tema Motorway to make driving on the stretch safe.

For weeks, drivers and commuters who use the motorway complained about the gaping and dangerous potholes that had developed particularly on that stretch of the 19km motorway that had become a threat to road safety.

Over the weekend, the mobile maintenance team undertook an exercise to improve the situation, filling the potholes with bitumen, although the road is paved with concrete.

The Public Relations Officer of the GHA, Cecil Obodai Wentum, told the Daily Graphic that the weekend’s rehabilitation works constituted about 80 per cent of required maintenance works, and that the rest would be completed soon.

Beyond that, officials of the GHA declined to answer further questions with regard to the proposed rehabilitation and expansion works on the motorway.

                                                      The state of the road before the patch work.

Situation

Although the government has promised major rehabilitation works on the motorway, with work originally scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2019, that is yet to start.

The rehabilitation will involve the expansion of the carriageways and the provision of interchanges to ease travel time on the road.

Last week, when the Daily Graphic travelled on that route, it observed that on a stretch of less than two kilometres of the 19-kilometre motorway, one could count no less than 17 of such dangerous potholes

At many spots of the road, one needed to drive very cautiously, while at the same time praying that other drivers would not impede movement, as many drivers swerved without warning when they chanced on the dangerous potholes.

Others went hard on the brakes and forced oncoming vehicles to either screech to a halt or swerve off the road entirely.

That caused traffic on the route that had been designed to facilitate faster drive to and from Accra.

Bumpy surface

However, the previously deteriorated spots now have a new look; but that has also come with another problem, as it has created an uneven surface, since the bitumen is not compatible with the concrete surface.

Although the patching has solved the problem of drivers having to dodge the potholes and drive with so much caution, it has created bumpy surfaces, for which reason drivers now have to lower their speed on road, else they hit the bumps.

When the Daily Graphic went on a tour of the road to check on works undertaken on it, it found an Uber/Bolt driver, Benjamin Ampomah Wereko, who had parked his car on the shoulder of the road to replace his deflated tyre.

He said having seen the patched road, he assumed it was safe to drive at the accepted 100km/hr speed limit, but he hit a bump that caused his tyre to deflate.

“It is no longer safe to drive at that speed on this road and everybody should be made to comply,” he told the Daily Graphic.

Wereko, who resides at Mataheko, near Afienya on the Michel Camp-Akosombo road and claimed to traverse the motorway at least three times daily, narrated his narrow escape last Sunday, September 26, 2021.

He said he had picked a passenger from Tema and was heading to the Kotoka International Airport. On reaching a spot on the motorway that had one of the dangerous potholes, he barely avoided an accident as another driver bounced out of the pothole and headed straight at him.

Wereko said providently, there was no car immediately to his left in the inner lane and so he swerved there for safety.

“What we go through on this road is no joke... Anytime we use the motorway, we suffer a lot. Sometimes there is no light. We beg the authorities to keep their eyes on it for us,”  he said.

Another disappointed driver who lives at Community 22 but works at the Kotoka Airport, Yaw Annor Kusi, said it was disappointing to see the potholes filled with bitumen, instead of concrete.

“Why do we do this? How do we create another problem when one challenge is solved? Why do we have to use bitumen when the road is made of concrete? It makes driving on a road that has been designed and constructed to provide convenience very frustrating, particularly for those of us who commute on it daily,” Kusi said.

Routine patching

This is not the first time the Accra-Tema Motorway has been patched to solve the issue of potholes.

In 2018, a similar exercise was undertaken by workers of a construction firm who used bitumen to seal potholes on parts of the concrete overlay near the Community 18 section of the road.

At that time, the Daily Graphic observed that the patching of the road had resulted in a traffic jam that stretched over four kilometres on the Accra-bound side.

Vital infrastructure

The Accra-Tema Motorway is the busiest highway in Ghana and one of the important roads in the West African sub-region.

Records show that about 35,000 cars pay tolls daily to use the route, generating about GHc40,000 daily or GHc14.6 million annually.

The motorway forms an integral part of the Trans-Africa Highway stretching from Lagos through Lomé, Accra and Abidjan to Dakar.

However, the 19-kilometre highway is riddled with potholes on both sides. In addition to that, iron rods that were used to fortify the concrete surface are exposed at some sections due to the deterioration of the road.