SIMMERING IN the blazing sun, the Adomi Bridge is a reflection of one of the most fascinating engineering feats ever performed in Ghana.

The idea to construct a suspending bridge, the first of its kind in the country, was not just artistic but to serve as an integral linkage of traffic on the Volta Lake.

It is estimated that on the average over three thousand (3,000) vehicles of all sizes cross the bridge daily. However, the ?Silver Rainbow? was closed down last Monday March 10, 2014 for maintenance work.

The closure has not only heightened the inconvenience of travellers and motorists but is also gradually creating tension among residents in the area.

Traffic congestion has become a common feature at the crossing that the Adomi Bridge used to serve prior to its closure. Only one pontoon has been put on the extremely busy crossing to convey the thousands of commuters across the largest man-made lake?Volta Late?in Africa.

However, the tension at the Adomi crossing has escalated beyond the problems being experienced by commuters, as DAILY GUIDE has gathered a simmering confusion over the names ?Old Akrade? and ?Ogoli?.

It would be recalled that all announcements about the closure of the bridge referred to Senchi and Old Akrade as the points of access of the

ferry services either from the Eastern or the Volta Region respectively and vice versa.

However, chiefs and residents and the Assembly Member of the Ayimodonu in North Tongu District, Benjamin Dadedzi, have expressed worry over the change of their town?s name from Ogoli to old Akrade, especially when Akrade was on the Senchi side of the Volta Lake.

The assembly member noted that ?our chiefs are not happy at all? and backed their claim with a petition addressed to the Ministry of Roads and Highways and Ministry of Transport through the Volta Regional Minister.

The petition which was signed by the Senior Divisional Chief of Togordzi Dorfor, Togbe Tsifohor Attram V, noted, ?We are unhappy about the two ministries in collaboration with the Ghana Highways Authority (GHA) naming the two ferries and changing our town?s name, Ogoli to Old Akrade whereas every document available at your disposal shows clearly same.?

Mr. Dadedzi told DAILY GUIDE that if the needed research and consultation had been done, this blunder would not have happened as he wondered why one of the ferries would also be named Old Akrade instead of Ogoli.

The District Chief Executive (DCE) of the area, Fafa Agbai who accompanied the Deputy Volta Regional Minister, Francis Ganyaglo and other officials to monitor the ferry operation system said she and the North Tongu DCE only got to know about the closure of the Adomi Bridge through public announcements.

He explained that Senchi is in the Asuogyamang District and Constituency of the Volta Region while the point being referred to as Old Akrade instead of Ogoli is in the North Tongu District and Constituency.

These claims were also backed by the Deputy Education Minister and MP of North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa last Thursday, when the issue of the closure of the Adomi Bridge came up in Parliament.

The Volta Regional Maintenance Manager of GHA, Mohammed Abu, noted that the concerns would be channeled to the appropriate office for further consultation and considerations.

Breakdown of Akrade Ferry Hours after starting operation last Monday March10, one of the two ferries intended to transport passengers, vehicles and cargo across the Volta Lake broke down.

The pontoon which is christened Akrade broke down just after doing one round leaving the other pontoon, the Senchi ferry, to soldier on alone. The situation therefore increased pressure on the Senchi ferry, causing high vehicular and human traffic.

The Project Manager of the ferry services and an engineer, Benjamin Adjei Keelson, explained that the ferry broke down as a result of a sudden malfunctioning of a part, adding that an order had been placed for a replacement.

He was hopeful that the Akrade pontoon would return to full operation soon to reduce the traffic on both sides of the lake and ease pressure on the Senchi ferry.

Fortunately, the ferry returned to duty last Wednesday, March 12, to ease the congestion at both sides of the lake.

That notwithstanding, travellers are unhappy with the time they spend waiting before crossing over.

By last Wednesday at the crossing point of Old Akrade at about 3:00pm drivers from the Volta Region said they had been waiting for 40 minutes, while those on the Senchi side from Eastern and Greater Accra regions said they had been waiting for about three hours.

Kweku Ntow noted that on Monday night some of them had to sleep over at the Senchi side because the ferry had closed even after extending their services from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm. He also recounted how a rainstorm on Monday halted ferry operations.

Mr. Keelson corroborated the story and noted that the storm pushed the pontoon southward because they tried to cart people across to stem the traffic jam on both sides. They therefore extended the operation time. He also assured that when necessary they would extend the closing time of the ferry.

Each ferry can carry 200 passengers at a time, a maximum load of 30 tons and a maximum rated axle load of 15 tons.

Increased Transport Fare

When the bridge was functional, passengers crossed for free. However, travellers, particularly drivers, are complaining

about the high cost being charged for crossing the Volta Lake using the pontoon and pleaded for a reduction.

Currently the charges for vehicles

range between GH?1.00 and GH?85.00, depending on the type.

Motorbikes pay GH?1.00, saloon cars/tricycles pay GH?10.00, Pickups/ Urvans pay GH?12.00, buses and Kia trucks are paying GH?15.00, MMT bus/2axles tippers pay GH?20.00, Backhoes are paying GH?15.00, Pay loaders pay GH?20.00 and articulated trucks pay GH?30.00.

The rest are Low loader with excavators which pay GH?40.00, a Low loader with grader and Low loader with roller pays GH?50.00. Low loaders Dozer D4 pays GH?45.00, D6 pays GH?65.00, D8 pays GH?75.00 and D9 pays GH?85.00.

The Volta Regional Maintenance Manager, Mohammed Abu, however, noted that the charges were very moderate when compared to similar services by the Volta Lake Transport Company.

He said the ferry service was more of humanitarian and a social service than a business venture, hence travelers should bear with GHA.

Although transport operators in Kpong and Atimpoku stations hinted of holding meetings to review transport fares to alleviate the plight of both drivers and patrons, those in Ho have made their decision already and given two offers.

The unions and transport companies

have offered travellers the option of using the current route through Akrade onto a ferry to Senchi and beyond, while the other route is through Adidome, Sogakofe, Tema Roundabout to Accra. The Akrade route has the fare maintained despite the ferry charges and inconveniences.

Prices on the Adidome route however, have gone up by GH?2.00 according to the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), Progressive Transport Owners Association (PROTOA) and Cooperative Transport Owners Association.

For these unions, travelling from Ho to Accra through Adidome has gone up from GH?14.00 to GH?16.00.

Business and Tourism

Although the ferry services had sparked brisk businesses, traders at both sides of the landing site of the ferry have complained about a slump in revenue; blaming it on the alleged exorbitant ferry charges.

Others who have set up shops at Atimpoku near the closed Adomi Bridge and along the stretch towards Senchi are also complaining bitterly that the diversion of traffic has seriously affected their businesses.

A private developer also took advantage of the traffic to provide parking

services for stranded vehicles. The ferry services have also revived a tourism venture, as some school children were spotted as part of an educational tour to Akosombo Dam. Photographers are also cashing in from passengers and drivers who want to keep memories of their ferry adventure.

Private Boat Services DAILY GUIDE also noticed a minor station opened at Asafo near the Adomi Bridge and a private boat service at the same spot. The station operates such that travellers from Ho, Hohoe, Kpeve Juapong and the like moving to Akosombo, Kpong, Somanya, Accra, Koforidua and beyond will alight at a small village called Asafo. They then pick a private boat for GH?1.00 across to Atimpoku and pick another vehicle to their final destination and vice versa.

This arrangement also helps residents and travellers close to the Adomi Bridge to do brisk business at a less stressful and reduced time as compared to the ferry arrangement.

Residents along the lake who own boats and canoes also cross over privately with friends and relatives without charges.

FROM Fred Duodu & Dinah Agyarko, Atimpoku

[email protected]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.