Motorway deteriorates - Patched portions rot away
Despite sustained public outcry, the 19-kilometre Accra-Tema Motorway continues to deteriorate and pose grave danger to motorists.
Two years after the Daily Graphic began to highlight the deteriorating state of the 56-year-old motorway, potholes, bitumen patches, erosion and hardened lumps from spilled concrete are still posing a danger and discomfort to drivers and passengers who commute on it on a daily basis.
On both sides of the country’s only concrete motorway, potholes, some of which have been patched with bitumen, have left the road in a dangerous state, especially at night when visibility on the stretch is poor.
About half of the street lights that were mounted on the motorway about a year ago are not functioning.
A month-long monitoring by the Daily Graphic, as a follow-up to similar exercises in the past, revealed that the situation had only become worse.
While the Tema-Accra stretch remains the more deplorable, the portion around the Ashaiman tollbooth, where transit trucks park on the shoulders, sometimes for hours, has been destroyed by potholes, while erosion has also eaten into the edges.
The stretch just before the Abattoir Bridge, which was recently fixed, has developed potholes that force drivers to slow down, creating traffic congestion all the way to the Ashaiman under-bridge area.
On four occasions, while monitoring activities on the motorway for this story series, the Daily Graphic came across vehicular accidents, one of which resulted in injuries and the victims rushed to hospital.
On our recent tour of the motorway a week ago, a tanker truck driver, Raymond Nkrumah, who was seen stranded on the Tema-Accra side, with his vehicle in a ditch, said he had loaded the truck with diesel from the Bulk Oil and Storage Transportation Limited (BOST) in Tema and was headed for Kumasi when the truck hit a pothole, resulting in the removal of the tyre rod.
"I hit a pothole and my tyre rod was removed, tossed the vehicle from one side to the other before entering the ditch," he said.
The experience, he said, was scary.
Meanwhile, the team observed that the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) had installed a solar-powered electronic radar speed sign on the motorway.
The speed sign was installed to make drivers aware of the level of their speed as they drove to help them keep to the required speed on the motorway.
Two years ago, the Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Attah, told the Daily Graphic that plans were far advanced for the reconstruction of the motorway to make it safer for users.
“We are in the process of reconstructing the motorway soon to ensure the safety of road users,” he said at the time.
Despite the assurance by the minister, the motorway has since not seen any major rehabilitation.
Rather, motorists are still confronted with the nightmare of a deteriorating motorway, prompting calls from the public for the government to fix and restore it to its original state.
When contacted, the Ministry of Roads and Highways declined to comment on the situation except to refer the Daily Graphic to the 2022 Mid-Year Budget review in June this year, in which the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, gave an assurance that work on the reconstruction of the motorway would start last two months.
“Mr Speaker, under the Ministry of Roads and Highways (MoRH) Public-Private Partnership (PPP) programme for road infrastructure, the Design, Build, Finance, Operate, and Maintain (DBFOM) Accra – Tema Motorway and Extension PPP Project (27.7km) is at the procurement stage. Site works are expected to commence in September 2022,” the minister said.
The Greater Accra Regional Director of the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA), Emmanuel Laryea Odai, told the Daily Graphic that as an interim measure, the Mobile Maintenance Unit of the GHA would be resourced to carry out periodic maintenance, while the government prepared to reconstruct the motorway.
“The unit has been doing some work on the motorway, and that is supposed to be an interim measure to keep it running before the reconstruction work begins, as indicated by the sector minister,” he said.
A Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways, Stephen Pambiin Jalulah, also told the Daily Graphic, last year that the government was in the process of awarding the contract for the reconstruction of the motorway and the dualisation of some highways across the country.
“I know that financing arrangements will soon be made for contractors to begin work on the motorway," he said.
Already, he said, the contract for the design and reconstruction of the motorway from the Tema Interchange through the Apenkwa Interchange to the Neoplan Junction at Achimota had been awarded.
Since December 2020, the Daily Graphic has focused on safety on the motorway and produced six stories to highlight some of the acts of indiscipline that portend danger for road users, as well as the bad state of the road.
The first story: "Motorway menace on increase", focused on some of the illegal activities perpetrated by both motorists and squatters along the motorway.
That was followed in January this year by another story titled: "Indiscipline unabated: Accra-Tema Motorway without rules", which also threw light on the indiscipline on the motorway that was threatening the safety of road users.
Another story: “The lights go dim: Accra-Tema Motorway in focus”, was published on April 15, 2021, to highlight the concerns of motorists over visibility on the motorway and how challenging it was to drive on it at night.
After the publication, the Director-General of the Ghana Standards Authority, Professor Alex Dodoo, told the Daily Graphic that the streetlights did not conform to the country’s standard for street lighting.
That revelation was then captured in a follow-up story with the headline: “Motorway lights substandard — GSA”, which was published on April 16, 2021.
Our attention then shifted to the state of the motorway with a story that was published on June 1, 2022, with the headline: “A year on: Accra-Tema Motorway still in bad shape”.
Each of the stories was published with a number of photos to signal the urgency to restore the motorway to improve safety.