Scores of illegal structures along the Tema Motorway Roundabout were demolished early yesterday morning by officials of the Ministry of Roads and Highways, the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) to pave the way for the continuation of work on the three-tier Tema Motorway Roundabout Interchange project.
Carried out from 5 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the exercise saw the pulling down of concrete structures and the burning of wooden structures said to be situated within the right of way (RoW) of the project.
The demolition became necessary following the failure of some recalcitrant occupants of the structures to relocate, in spite of several warnings from the ministry.
The exercise was led by the Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Kwasi Amoako-Atta, who was accompanied by one of his deputies, Mr Kwabena Owusu-Aduomi; the Chief Executive Officer of the GHA, Mr Ernest Arthur, and some officials from the ministry and the authority.
Traders and squatters
After the demolition of the structures, the officials of the Ministry of Roads and Highways and the GHA handed over the vacant sections of the stretch to the contractors, Shimizu-Dai Nippon Joint Venture (SDJV) of Japan.
The project is being executed at a cost of $57 million from the Japanese government.
Traders and squatters who got wind of the early morning exercise thronged the venue to secure their structures, which had become their places of abode or where they earned their living.
A few lucky ones managed to secure their personal items by employing the services of wooden trucks to move them before the structures could be brought down by bulldozers.
Those who came in late could only looked on while their structures were burnt or crushed by the bulldozers.
About the Tema Motorway
The 19-kilometre motorway was constructed during the administration of Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and was opened to traffic in 1965 to link Tema to Accra.
Currently, there are over 10 points on the motorway where commercial and private vehicle drivers stop to load and offload passengers and goods.
From the Accra Mall area through to the Flower Pot area past the Tema Motorway Toll Booth, drivers stop and load with impunity, without recourse to other road users.
Other notable parking areas include the stretch adjoining the Action Chapel, Printex factory and the Ashaiman underpass.
There are also 18 unauthorised routes along the motorway or the National Route 1 (N1), which starts from Aflao in the Volta Region and ends at Elubo in the Western Region. Also communities are gradually springing up along the road.
As a result of the unauthorised routes, parking areas and the springing up of communities, the motorway is gradually becoming a death trap, with many motor accidents occurring on the road.
The interchange project, which began in January 2018, involves the conversion of the existing Tema Motorway Roundabout into an interchange.
The interchange will be extended 500 metres from the roundabout towards the Ashaiman Timber Market Roundabout, 400 metres along the Aflao Road, 300 metres towards the Tema Harbour and about 300 metres to join the Tema-Accra Motorway.
As part of the project, an underpass is being constructed on the Tema-Aflao stretch of the roundabout, while the capacity of the slip roads near the roundabout are also being improved to be able to hold the traffic flow along the stretch.
Already, the detour roads to divert traffic from the main routes have been completed and are expected to be opened to traffic on Sunday, August 26, 2018 to pave the way for the removal of dead materials from the surface of the main stretches of the project.
Similarly, work on the dug outs for the construction of the tunnel along the Tema-Aflao section of the road to hold the overhead bridge is also underway.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic at the site, Mr Amoako-Atta said the government was behind schedule in meeting the conditions of the terms owing to the continued occupancy of vital areas by the recalcitrant squatters and traders.
“The agreement stipulates that the first phase of the project should be completed within 28 months and any delay that may bring about an added cost to the project will be borne by the government of Ghana, hence the need to use the authority of the state to move the squatters and the structures,” he said.
Japan, he said, had lived up to its obligation, hence the need for the government to move in to ensure that Ghana also met its side of the contractual arrangements.
Mr Amoako-Atta commended the owners of the Total Petrol Refilling stations at the Tema and Akosombo ends of the stretch for removing part of their structures which were affected by the project and urged the public to emulate the example.
Drivers and traders unions at the Aflao Lorry Park near the Motorway Roundabout, however, expressed displeasure at the blockage of access routes to their station.
When they saw Mr Amoako-Atta in the area, they massed up along the detour routes and pleaded with him to grant them direct access to the stretch.
The minister also expressed disgust at the continuous use of illegal routes by motorists along the Tema-Accra Motorway.
Presently, he said, the GHA was undertaking an exercise to seal all such illegal routes using barricades and would ensure that persons engaged in activities that sought to compromise the safety of motorists along the stretch would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
While thanking the minister and his team for helping to remove the structures, the Project Manager of Shimizu, Mr Uemura Yujin, stated that overhead electricity cables situated along the RoW were also a major impediment to the project and urged him to engage the Ministry of Energy to make way for their relocation to speed up the project.