A date with Death; the horror of driving on the Accra – Tema Motorway at Night

Ghanaian Photographer, Paul Kplorla Nyamador shares about his near death experience on the Accra - Tema Motorway at Night.

Ghanaian Photographer, Paul Kplorla Nyamador shares about his near death experience on the Accra – Tema Motorway at Night.

Roads are an important part of any country’s quest to develop. It is so because, without roads, nothing moves. Without roads there is stagnation of personal development of the people and the nation as a whole.

It does not also mean that for the want of roads, we are given anything that qualifies to be called a road. The quality, safety and overall fitness for purpose of the roads matter most.

On Saturday the 3rd of November this year, I traveled to Prampram from Accra to take pictures for a client who had an event there. The event lasted all through the day till it was dark. On my way back to Accra, I had to use the Accra – Tema Motorway and it was not a nice experience at all.

The Dark Accra – Tema Motorway

The over 20 km stretch of high-speed lane had no form of lightening except the harsh highlights from vehicles on opposite lanes. I was on the lookout just waiting to see one functioning street light. My pre-existing thought of no functioning street lights was confirmed. Not even a single one was found.

The fastest lane in Ghana was dark on both ends. The high lights from cars in the opposite lane could easily blind any driver. In a situation where your headlights malfunction on this road, you’d be better off driving with your eyes closed.

To make things worse, this road is full of gullies and potholes. The road has potholes of different sizes and shapes. You simply can’t have a smooth drive of more than five minutes without entering into a pothole.

My curiosity drove me to engage the driver in a conversation. He told me about how driving on the motorway has become increasingly dangerous. “It is like going on a date with death itself” he said in a local dialect.

He lamented about how he constantly has to change his tyre after every one week of evening trip on the motorway, because of the potholes they constantly fall into.

About ten minutes into the journey on the motorway, we came across an accident, where a driver had lost control and drove into a ditch. We stopped to help and after the car was successfully pulled out of the ditch it was clear it was the high light of an oncoming vehicle that blinded the driver.

Silent and Ineffective Leadership

In the face of all these, one is forced to ask whether there isn’t anyone in charge of roads. It beats my imagination that the road we are complaining about isn’t in some cottage behind the smallest village in some corner somewhere. This is a major road in Accra, used by thousands of vehicles carrying millions of passengers on a daily basis. One thing is clear, Leadership doesn’t value the lives of the people they lead.

It is amazing to know that a country like Ghana has a Ministry of Roads, Ministry of Transportation, a Highways Authority, a Department of Urban and Feeder Roads, Municipal and District Assemblies.

All of these ministries, departments and agencies have people in charge, paid regularly and they are supposed to be the ones dealing with these problems. As many as they are, just two problems of street lights and pot holes remain a “Bermuda Triangle” mystery they can’t resolve.

The annoying part of this whole issue is when you ask them, they are quick to refer you to how a previous government did not fix the problem. That excuse only exposes the real agenda they have when they come campaigning to us for power, they simply do not care about you and I. That’s just it.

During the inauguration ceremony of our current President, he made a call on all of us to be citizens, citizens and not spectator, he called on us to take our country serious and build it, for no one from outside will help us build. It however looks like that speech was a mere rhetoric to get us smiling, because his own appointees do not seem to be working in that respect.


Deep potholes on the Accra-Tema motorway. Photo Credit: MyJoyOnline.com

The way Forward

It isn’t clear whether the government and the ministry in charge have any plans to fix street lights on the motorway and also repair the potholes. Some drivers have however started a form of protest by refusing to pay tolls at the toll booth on the motorway.

That approach may be unlawful but, we can’t really blame them since they pay the tolls to use a road that even puts their lives on the line.

Public aggression and protest on all platforms is another way the problem could be resolved. Social media has made it possible to lead protests and take issues up with the powers that matter.

I urge all well-meaning Ghanaians to speak up and let the voices heard so this issue gets resolved as early as possible.

Author: Paul Kporla Nyamador.

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