I struggle to call it a motorway. Indeed, in its current state, that 18 kilometre cemented road linking Accra and Tema which was built in the 1960s to facilitate movement of goods from the Tema harbour to other parts of the country and beyond does not qualify to be described as a motorway. It has long outlived its purpose and its careless use by drivers and pedestrians pose a bigger threat.
I used the motorway for my regular daily commuting from Accra to Tema for nearly a decade and so I know the road like the back of my palm. I stopped regular commuting in 2008 and at the time, I was beginning to observe some level of danger due to the carelessness of some drivers and the unnecessary speed adopted simply because it has a 100 kilometres per hour limit.
In the absence of any statistics or scientific research, one could today describe the motorway as nothing but a hazard. It is one of the “must watch” short roads around. I used the motorway a couple of weeks ago with a friend driving. For the 20 minutes or so ride from one end to the other I turned a complete nervous wreck. It has developed into a death trap with disasters waiting to happen.
I see the road as a death trap for a few reasons. There are too many unauthorised exits on both sides of the motorway. As such as vehicles are cruising at 100 kilometres per hour, other vehicles are dangerously joining in or existing, sometimes without any warning signs.
When I used the road recently, I witnessed two near misses and even noticed someone doing a U-turn at some point using the inner lane. So, if indeed accidents could happen within a twinkle of an eye, why have the monitoring section of the Roads and Highways Authority and all other responsible bodies allowed this indiscipline to go on knowing that miscreants always find a loophole to cheat the system?
And a question must be asked of the related local Assemblies as to why so many unsightly structures and human dwellings have been allowed to spring up along the motorway? Because of the settlements, people are dangerously crossing the road from both sides of the motorway at the risk of their lives.
The indiscipline happening on the motorway comes in multiples, one feeding into the other. Because of the unauthorised settlements very close to the road, commercial drivers including taxis, “trotros” and commercial motorbikes known as “okada” are stopping to drop off or pick up passengers on a stretch where others are driving at top speed. The danger is that a lot of times these drivers fail to signal that they are stopping or joining in. It only takes a careful driver and the mercy of God for one to make it on that road.
Even more grave is the fact that some of the people plying the motorway are oblivious to the prescribed usage of a motorway. They lack the basic courtesies and fail to recognise the rights of other drivers. In other countries, the inner lanes of a motorway are observed as the fast lane for those who choose to drive at the maximum required speed limit. There are always clear signs to indicate so while serving as advice for users.
However, on the Accra-Tema motorway, this is not so hence the regular abuse. Some drivers stay in the inner lane for the entire duration of their journey and choose to go at their own pace unmindful of those who may be in a hurry. They would refuse to move into the outer lane for others to use the fast lane thus creating irritability. The result is that vehicles weave through from right to the left even at the kind of speed being applied.
Apart from the uneven patches, it is so disappointing to see how we have left the Accra-Tema motorway to degenerate into indiscipline and chaotic road. It is a road where basic courtesies and observances are blatantly ignored and where settlements have turned it into a normal access road and pedestrians and drivers are competing for their turns at fast speed.
It is time for the Roads and Highways Authority to turn a lot more attention to this Accra-Tema motorway to help arrest lawlessness and indiscipline on the part of drivers and pedestrians. We have two options to consider. First, we could fence off the motorway due to the fast-growing nature of human settlements. That way, we would not have unauthorised exists, dangerous crossings and drop off and pick up of passengers. While the fencing idea would be ideal, one is mindful of the cost involved.
The other option, sadly, could be to convert the motorway into a normal access road with ramps to force drivers to slow down, in case they forget that it is no longer a motorway. We would need to still maintain the toll booths to collect tolls for regular maintenance. When the conversion is done, a ban on 100kms speed limit needs to be placed with reminders by way of signs mounted along the route.
The lives and properties lost on the motorway are needless. The impunities are not going to go away overnight. From what I saw a couple of weeks ago, misuse of the motorway has gotten worse with time. Looking at the state it is in now, we would be better off turning it into a normal road like any other. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.
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