Vodafone Ghana has begun covering open underground chambers belonging to the company in Accra, following a Daily Graphic publication on the dangers the chambers posed to both pedestrians and motorists in the city.
So far, some 200 of such life-threatening underground cable access chambers, most of which are found in the middle of walkways and streets, have been covered.
The action by the company will help prevent the danger posed to pedestrians, especially women, children and the physically challenged, particularly at night and during heavy downpours.
The exercise, which is still ongoing, is being carried out in Accra and Tema.
Some of the areas where the chambers are being covered are the central business district (CBD) of Accra, such as the Bank of Ghana, the Opeibea Junction, Kaneshie, the Tema Station, Odorkor, Dome CFC Estate, Madina, Achimota old station, the Police Training school, Avenor, West Ridge, the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Adabraka and the National Theatre.
The rest are the Ministries, Tesano, Lapaz, Pig Farm, Osu, the University of Ghana, Legon, Airport Junction, Madina, Asylum Down, Taifa, Mamprobi, Kokomlemle, Nungua, Mallam and some communities in Tema.
The exercise, which took place between December 2020 and June 2021, followed a story published by the Daily Graphic titled: “Deathtraps: Uncovered underground chambers pose danger”, in its November 12, 2020 edition.
The report highlighted the risk the open chambers, embossed with GT or P&T inscriptions and with no barricades or warning signs around them, posed to both pedestrians and motorists.
They also served as breeding grounds for disease vectors such as mosquitos, the report said.
The External Communications Manager of Vodafone Ghana, Mr. Daniel Asiedu, said public safety remained a priority to the company, for which reason urgent measures were being taken to safeguard people’s lives.
“As and when an open chamber of the company is reported, it is immediately attended to in order that our operations do not affect public safety,” he added.
The manager claimed that the company’s chambers were always deployed and installed with covers, but that the covers were either stolen by scrap dealers or damaged by cable thieves, who destroyed them to search for copper cables.
“We are now taking proactive steps to barricade open chambers with safety barriers immediately such occurrence is brought to our attention. We are now covering them with concrete covers to make them unattractive,” he said.
The Daily Graphic, on January 17, 2021, led the company to some of the open chambers when the company could not identify the location of some of the chambers.
On that day, 13 of such open chambers embossed with GT and P&T symbols were found. On the second tour on January 31, another 11 more chambers were located.
“We appreciate the Daily Graphic for your support in helping us identify the open chambers,” Mr. Asiedu said.
The Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Mr. Mohammed Adjei Sowah, also commended the company for the exercise.
He said about 52 per cent of the people in the city commuted daily by walking, “hence safety on our walkways is essential.”
“Indeed, over 50 per cent of road crashes recorded in Accra are suffered by pedestrians, so it is important we ensure pedestrian safety, and one aspect of it is to make sure that these underground openings are covered,” Mr. Sowah said.
He also acknowledged the fact that most metal gratings of storm drains and the underground chambers of the various telecommunication companies were allegedly being stolen by scrap dealers.
“About two months ago, I led a team of officials of the AMA to tour the CBD at Okaishie, Makola, the General Post Office and parts of Tudu, where we realised many metal gratings had been stolen and fixing them will cost over GHc2 million.
“I am, therefore, very excited about the work by the Daily Graphic, and on behalf of the AMA, I would like to commend the paper for publishing safety issues on our pedestrian walkways and roads in the city of Accra,” he said.
The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 urges governments to put in safety measures to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, since walking and cycling are affordable and accessible ways for the vulnerable, including women and the poor, to move about in cities.
It is expected that other telecommunication companies, such as MTN Ghana, AirtelTigo and Glo Ghana, which also have some open underground chambers across Accra, will emulate the example by Vodafone Ghana to make the city livable for all.