Independence Avenue and Liberation Road are in Accra. Liberation Road takes on from where Independence Avenue ends.
Take a walk from the National Theatre past the imposing Ecobank head office towards the Ridge roundabout up past MTN head office to the new imposing Standard Chartered Bank building, through Afrikiko heading towards the Jubilee House, past 37 Military Hospital to Golden Tulip hotel carrying on towards the Airport to former Shangri-La Hotel and you would have covered two ceremonial routes in the capital.
This road spans over 2.8 kilometres. It has some strategic buildings, offices, banks, hotels, the seat of government and other key institutions. It is likely to be the first impression for many first time visitors to the city. It could easily be made a “travel and see” enviable road and pride of the capital if only someone cared enough about their job. Yet, as ceremonial as it is, it is also one of the most abused roads in the capital.
Both the Independence Avenue and the Liberation Road are, unfortunately, a microcosm of the indiscipline, impunities and insensitivities that are choking our beautiful country. Hawking, begging, walking on green grass purposely planted for beautification, non-functional traffic lights with some knocked over by careless drivers and above all irresponsible littering are all mannerisms that could be fixed if someone was to do their oversight work properly.
Accra Metropolitan Assembly
My imagination has been going wild at the start of a New Year, as I received my property rate for 2019. I have diligently searched to see what the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) could do for its ratepayers and specifically our capital as we race up to make Accra the most beautiful city in Africa.
I have imagined AMA taking some roads, streets or avenues within the city and turning them around with flower beds, shrubs, well-maintained buildings, pedestrian walkways and clearly marked zebra crossings. In effect, a focused attention by the Assembly to clean and beautify the city starting with little things like tidy streets and roads with no hawkers and beggars, flowers and shrubs to give drivers and pedestrians the opportunity to smell the roses would be a befitting thank you for property rate and taxpayers in the city.
Beauty, it is said, lies in the eyes of the beholder and so the street hawker might not look beyond a beautiful street as one that is free from hawkers. Likewise, beauty has different meanings for the commuter bus driver, the pedestrian or passenger who drops litter indiscriminately and the first time visitor to Ghana.
Travel and see
However, the adage, “travel and see” should remind those who visit other countries for pleasure or work that it has taken their citizens sacrifices, commitment and a deep respect for the laws of their country to get them that far. The result is the beautiful cities we admire when one visits.
The new terminal at the Kotoka International Airport should mesmerise visitors to our country and that feeling should be sustained even as they drive out into the city using Liberation Road. We should do all we can to stop once and for all, the congregation of beggars and street hawkers who continually line up the exit of the Kotoka International Airport and beyond.
Looking from outside, declaring such ceremonial roads as the Liberation Road and Independence Avenue hawker and beggar free should not be difficult. It should not be a problem for AMA and the Airport Police to team up and clear the unsightly assembly on these and other roads in the city. All they need do is to give some initial notices and start arresting those who disobey. The pile of litter they leave on the street at the end of each day should not be someone else’s problem if we were to arrest them and for one week put them to clean up their own messes in the full glare of passers-by.
We should consider putting the Department of Parks and Gardens to good use on our ceremonial roads. The public should admire their creativity and appreciate their hard work out there. Let it be made someone’s work target to maintain all the flower beds and shrubs along ceremonial roads.
As the cleanest city project progresses, one would like to feel it out there. Imagine an independent walk along paved sidewalks from the Independence Avenue through the Liberation Road one early morning or late evening with no hawkers or beggars to distract attention. A fine moment to sip in the sight of beautiful flower beds and pruned shrubs and trees in between those beautiful buildings and which seem to echo the sweet chirping sounds of birds in one’s ears. What a liberation it would be for the mind, body and soul.