The alarming presence of many unauthorised U-turns along the Pokuase-Nsawam dual carriageway, which is part of the Accra-Kumasi highway, has triggered indiscipline on the busy highway and compromised the safety of road users.
On a daily basis, drivers of private and commercial vehicles, especially trotros, taxis and articulated trucks, use the illegal U-turns to avoid heavy traffic that mounts on the highway.
Last Saturday when the Daily Graphic visited that portion of the Accra-Kumasi highway, no less than 74 illegal U-turns were counted between Pokuase and the Nsawam bypass, in spite of the fact that there are 10 authorised U-turns on the same stretch, even if they are far apart.
There are 63 unauthorised U-turns from the end of the ongoing construction works on the $84-million three-tier, two-kilometre Pokuase Interchange project through Amasaman, Agbono Number 1 to Medie and Dobro, while 63 of such illegal access routes have been created between Dobro and the Adoagyiri end of the Nsawam bypass.
There are, however, no illegally constructed U-turns before Pokuase; that is, from the John Teye Memorial School Junction, due to the refilling of the median as part of ongoing construction works on the Pokuase Interchange.
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Reckless field day
Throughout the period the Daily Graphic spent on the road — from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — there was the characteristic slow moving traffic on the busy highway, especially between Pokuase and Amasaman.
Policemen from the Amasaman Police Station were on duty to facilitate the free flow of the traffic on the busy, dusty road.
“We are on duty all day on Saturday from six in the morning to eight in the evening,” a policeman who did not want to be identified told the Daily Graphic.
It was observed that the stretch of gutter in the median of the highway all the way from Pokuase to Amasaman, Sepeiman, Agbono Number 1, Pobi-Asaawa, Kuntuse, Medie and Dobro was filled to the brim with sand, allowing for vehicles to make illegal U-turns.
Quite a number of private and commercial vehicle drivers and motorcycle riders appeared to have a field day, as the drivers blatantly moved out of traffic to do about-turns to join the opposite side of the road, thereby compromising the safety of other motorists.
Poor road nature blamed
Aside from not paying heed to road safety regulations, erring drivers and motorcycle riders also hurled insults at other motorists who tried to correct them.
Some of the culprits who accepted their fault said they did so in order to save time, considering the long distance between one U-turn and another.
“As a trotro driver, it costs me a lot if I stay in the slow-moving traffic on the highway. It is also a waste and has effect on the daily sales I make for my car owner.
“Again, if you spend so much time in traffic, you receive insults from passengers, and to prevent that, one is pushed to make illegal turnings to beat the traffic,” Mr Abraham Adjetey, a 61-year-old trotro driver, said.
Another trotro diver who shared similar sentiments blamed the illegal about-turns on poor maintenance of the highway.
“The highway has developed deep potholes in some sections, which is why drivers turn round arbitrarily, and also because the intervals between the legally constructed U-turns are too long,” Kwame Ayisi, a 31-year-old driver, said.
No capacity to close down U-turns
When the Daily Graphic contacted the Amasaman Divisional Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD) on the dangers the illegal U-turns on the highway posed to motorists and pedestrians alike, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mr Francis Numado said the police had recorded five accidents on the road recently that claimed many lives as a result of drivers negotiating illegal about-turns.
“Such accidents often occur during rush hours, especially between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., and in the evening,” he added.
According to him, the police did not have the capacity to close down the illegal U-turns but they were making every effort to stop drivers from using them.
“We conduct random checks on the road and arrest those who use the unauthorised U-turns and process them for court,” he said.
Because the Amasaman MTTD does not have enough vehicles, the personnel are unable to patrol the highway frequently to check drivers.
To address the challenge, DSP Numado called for overhead bridges to be constructed across the highway to aid pedestrians to cross the road.
He has also urged the Ghana Highway Authority to close all unauthorised U-turns on the Pokuase-Nsawam dual carriageway in order to minimise accidents on the road.