The Accra-Tema motorway has always been a death trap over the years due to lack of lighting, numerous deep potholes and reckless driving by drivers who ply the road.
However, there is one particular problem on the Tema bound lane of the motorway that if not fixed with alacrity could cause an avoidable mass killing of innocent Ghanaians.
The wide and deep ditch over which the motorway stretches across is a canal that was created during the construction of the motorway over 5 decades ago.
The ditch is located at a spot on the 19 kilometer road popularly known as under bridge. It is not the only bridge there, but it was presumably part of the factors that informed the choice of name for that area. It is the next bridge after the under bridge ‘illegal’ bus stop.
A yawning 'mass grave' on the Accra-Tema motorway
What has actually turned that ditch into a waiting ‘mass grave’ is the fact that, though a bridge was constructed on it, the metal barricades that were fixed on its edges ostensibly to serve as blockade and ensure vehicles do not fall into the ditch have either removed or been removed.
A visit to the area in question showed that the bolts used to fix the barricades on both sides of the Tema bound lane of the motorway got uprooted in a way that looked deliberate.
Therefore the ditch is now left open, with the metals hanging loosely inside it.
The situation is so dicey in a sense that, with the motorway being a road that drivers drive at high speeds, if no immediate step is taken to rectify it, a vehicle fully loaded with innocent souls could be buried in the ‘mass grave’ if any vehicle veers of the road.
This is not doomsday prophesying, it is public knowledge how often accidents occur on the Accra-Tema motorway due to recklessness of divers. It is worse when it rains. There is hardly a day without accidents on the motorway.
Just recently a vehicle loaded with merrymakers partaking in a wedding party fell off a road into a similar ditch in India and many lives were lost. Ghana is not too special to experience that if guard is lost.
The motorway was mentioned in several national budget readings by successive governments as having been awarded for rehabilitation, but up till now it remains in the same deplorable state after it was constructed by the government of the first President of the nation, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah over five solid decades ago.
In the last budget, read in Parliament by President Akuffo Addo, it was again mentioned that, expansion of the road would be done by the end of this first quarter.
It is estimated that about 30,000 vehicles ply the road on a daily basis currently.
The motorway has 12 toll collection points and vehicles are charged based on the categories they fall in.
Vehicles are categorised into three: commercial vehicles (trotro), private vehicles) and big trucks.
Those that belong to the first two categories as stated above are charged GH₵ 1.00, while the last one; big trucks are charged GH₵ 2.00.
Assuming that all vehicles regardless of which categories they belong are charged GH₵ 1.00, a simple calculation shows that the motorway generates GH₵ 30,000 in a day, GH₵ 210,000 in a week, GH₵ 840,000 in a month and GH₵ 10,080,000 in a year.
Undoubtedly, it is the only road in Ghana generating so much money but remains the least attended to and has claimed many precious lives. It has been afflicted with the fate of the needle. Sewing all kinds of clothes but remains naked.
Being such a huge source of revenue for the state, one would have expected that the Ghana Highway Authority, the Road Safety Commission and other stakeholders would have placed premium on its maintenance in order to guarantee the safety of its users while the state also rake in revenue.
Some residents around the area in question have expressed fears that speed with which cars pass on the bridge, a devastating accident may occur in the area.
A certain woman for instance said: “It has been like since last year, it is only God’s grace that has been averting any calamity.”
One of the drivers at the Under Bridge lorry station: The government is making a lot of money from this road, but they don’t pay attention to its wellbeing.”
Data from the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service shows that in 2017 alone a total of 20,444 vehicles were involved in various forms of accidents across the country, resulting in the loss of 2,076 lives.
Also, between January and February this year, total number of 2,085 crashes resulting in 366 deaths and 2,272 injuries involving a total 3,415 vehicles were recorded, according to figures from the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC).
No disaster or situation of insecurity should be downplayed. However, the insensitive, but fair question that needs to be answered is, which other situation results in such a massive loss of lives in Ghana? Terrorism, natural disasters, armed robbery militancy or what?
As it stands now, per the figures, road accidents remain the biggest threat to national security, and must be approached with the necessary proactive measures to safeguard the lives of Ghanaians just as the security of politicians and other people in national positions are prioritized.
The ordinary Ghanaian also needs protection. Little things that need to be done to ensure the safety of taxpayers at whose expense the politicians swim in luxury must be taken seriously.