Following the recent knockdown of the West Africa Senior High School student by a speeding car and the resultant riots by the residents of Adentan, the government has announced that construction of the staircases for the footbridges will start today (Monday). An official police report says a little over 20 people have been killed on the Madina-Adenta super highway. Unofficial sources are, however, quoting 200 deaths.
Though the road was officially handed over to the government last year, it has been open to traffic for close to ten years. The media did a yeoman’s jobs by persistently reporting on the deaths resulting from vehicular knockdowns on the road, but officialdom did not pay proper attention until the killing of the student last week.
Despite this obvious neglect on the part of the government, The Chronicle is happy with the announcement by the Minister for Roads and Highways that the footbridges are going to be completed within a reasonable time. According to the Minister, contracts for the staircases have been awarded to six different contractors to help speed up the work.
Meanwhile, the non-functioning street lights, which were contributing to the problem, have been fixed and currently working. The street lights were part of the contract for the construction. Per the contract terms, the contractor also fixed the lights from Madina Firestone, all the way to Pantang Junction.
There was nothing to show that the bulbs fixed to these light poles were dead, yet, for close to three years the lights were not on. With the road passing though densely populated areas, it was not surprisingly that the vehicles kept knocking down people, because the streets were not lit. But, with the spillage of innocent blood, those who are responsible for these street lights have seen the need to put them on in the night.
Elsewhere, heads would have rolled over this, but, here in Ghana, we take things for granted. The good news though, is that the bridges are being fixed to reduce the accidents. The Chronicle, however, thinks fixing the bridges alone would not solve problems on the corridor. There is enough evidence to prove that even where footbridges have been provided, people still ignore them and try to cross the road at unauthorised places.
A typical example is the George Walker Bush Motorway. Though there are footbridges on the road, people still ignore them and cross anyhow. To avoid this from occurring on the Madina-Adenta road, The Chronicle suggests to the authorities to erect metal railings on the median of the road to force pedestrians to use the footbridges. Should the ministry fail to do this, The Chronicle can assure the nation that the knock-downs would not stop.
At Madina, for example, the footbridge has been sited close to Zongo-Junction. Though people cross the road right at the junction, the majority cross in front of the filling station, which is a distance away from Firestone. From the look of things, unless the median is blocked, they will still be crossing at that spot instead of walking towards the Zongo Junction to cross the road using the footbridge.
In executing national projects, we need to sometimes look at the behaviour of the people and factor them into the planning of these projects. Ghanaians are general lazy when it comes to walking, and this must be factored into the equation. Because of the road design in front of the Kaneshie Market, a suburb of Accra, pedestrians are forced to use the two footbridges as that is the only way they could cross the road to the other side.
This is what we are advocating must happen on the Madina-Adenta road to ensure the safety of the road users. Anything short of this will send the nation back to square one.
We rest our case!
Columnist: Ghanaian Chronicle