It is Friday morning and I have just come to the bank of a stream. It flows through Borteyman and crosses the Tema Motorway through Community 18, and into the sea.
I got here in my attempt to locate alternate routes to the Tema Motorway, a highway notorious for gridlocks.
What I see is heartbreaking, to say the least.
Children as young as five years are seen crossing the large stream in a series of flying leaps. They jump from rock to rock to get to the other side – all in their bid to get formal education. I could not believe it. Accra is not my village of Cape Three Points in the Ahanta West Municipality where this is a ‘normal’ thing to see. The unfolding spectacle is only a few minutes drive from Ghana’s capital.
I’m sure you’re asking yourself “why is this happening?” I asked myself the same question.
The answer may probably shock you; a bridge on the stream has collapsed and nothing has been done about it since the incident over two years ago, I was told. This bridge is located between Kanawu and Borteyman, around the old Zoomlion recycling factory.
The school children are left with no option but to cross this stream, every day to school. Kwesi, a pupil of Ask God Preparatory at Kanawu, another community along the Tema Motorway, helps younger colleagues to cross the stream. I saw him lift more than five children across the stream.
I am told this is a daily occurrence.
Abigail, is a basic five pupil who lives at Borteyman and schools at Kanawu, near Ashaiman. She’s been crossing this river to school for the past two years. She says the situation makes schooling difficult for her and the kids here.
“If rains fall, the road is not easy. Sometimes, cars pass here and they fall into the water. I am afraid of falling into it. When the rains fall, the stream rises and we do not have any other alternative of crossing this stream,” she told me.
Abigail is not the only resident worried about this state of affairs.
Mr. Soyi is the Proprietor of Ask God Preparatory School, the school Abigail attends. He also has to carry some of the students across the river on daily basis. He tells me the problem is forcing many school children to stay home.
“This place has been a big challenge, especially for the vulnerable. We have a town here called Borteyman. A lot of students are there; you have not even seen anything. If it rains, nobody can pass here meaning all the children must stay home without learning that day. A whole lot of students have died in this stream,” he said.
On why the problem has persisted without any solution, he tells me “we have called on authorities several times, but no help. So we are still calling on our leaders; our President, and all other stakeholders to come to our aide, so that we can save our future leaders and make their lives bright”.
Shockingly, Mr. Soyi reveals that he has witnessed about three children drowning in this stream, while on their way to or from school.
“If I cannot count at all, I have witnessed more than three people dying in this water. There is no alternative route through which the kids can cross to seek education, but this one. So it needs to be fixed quickly,” he narrated in frustration.
Young Abigail said she and the other children in the community want to go to school, and it is their wish that government fixes the bridge for them.
“Please, we want the President to come and fix our road for us because we cannot go to school. When the rains fall, children cannot cross the road because it becomes dangerous. That’s what I wanted to tell the President,” she begged.
For Abigail and her friends, and all other residents of this community, theirs is a prayer for a better day to come, for their bridge to be constructed someday. They can only hope for a brighter day.
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