*Residents lament

Residents along the Mallam-Kasoa Highway have lamented the increasing spate of road accidents on the highway and have appealed to the Ministry of Roads and Highways to find a lasting solution to the problem before the worst happens.

According to the residents, deaths on the road have been a bitter pill they have painfully been swallowing, since highway authorities have failed or refused to heed to calls to construct flyovers along the 18-kilometre highway and repair the damaged traffic and street lights along it.

“There is no single week that someone is not knocked down by a vehicle on this road.  For us here, seeing someone die on the road is a usual phenomenon which we have accepted as a fate,” a resident told this reporter.

Speaking on the severity of accidents on the road, a police officer, who spoke with our reporter on condition of anonymity, said “persons knocked down by speeding vehicles either die on the spot or are injured beyond recognition as they are usually dismembered.”

“Often, it is extremely difficult to identify some of these victims, and so relatives fail to come for them.  Sometimes we are left with the option of having to deal with the corpses ourselves,” bemoaned the policeman.

Intended to ease congestion and enhance free movement of persons and goods, the Government of Ghana solicited funds from the Government of Japan, who later converted an original loan facility into a grant for the construction (starting in 2002) of the Mallam Junction (Ga South District, Greater Accra Region) to Kasoa (Awutu-Senya District, Central Region) highway.

The road is now good and motorable, but residents say it has become a death trap and almost a graveyard.

Two gruesome accidents, which have necessitated the intensity of the call, Today was told, were the death of pedestrians and hawkers at the SCC Junction of the road and also the killing of a woman and her 5-year-old child at Tetteh Ogu Junction.

These two junctions, Today gathered, are accident-prone spots on the road.

While about ten people lost their lives and others disfigured in the SCC Junction incident late last year, a woman who sells roasted plantain and her child were killed instantly at the Tetteh Ogu Junction.

Though the accident at Tetteh Ogu Junction has led to the construction of strips on that portion of the road, vehicles have failed to heed to warnings signs of their presence and continue to speed across the strips.

Today’s investigations revealed that a certain Mr. Joseph Akakpo, a.k.a Nash Wotor, was knocked down and killed by a speeding car at the junction in 2007, and till date his widow and six children rely on the benevolence of neighbours to survive.

“The widow suffers [day by day] to take care of their one girl and five boys…  The eldest is 13 years and the youngest is 6 years old,” a neighbour told Today.

As if by design, this reporter was present when a young man who had alighted from a Trotro vehicle at Choice junction along this highway and was trying to cross the road was knocked down by an approaching vehicle.

A long-time resident along the road, Mr. Richard Tettey, indicated that, by his count, close to five hundred people have either lost their lives or been maimed on the road since its completion six years ago.

“…Some of us who have been staying in this area since 1990 believed the construction of the road would help to reduce accidents, but the opposite has happened.  We cannot fathom why we continue to lose dear ones on the road because nothing is done about it,” Mr. Tettey complained.

And it is difficult to see that the cause of the accidents is the absence of pedestrian flyovers on the International road to forestall contact between pedestrians and speeding vehicles.

Interestingly, this is the highway which is also used by tourists to the numerous beaches that line up the coast along the west of Accra and the tourist centres in the Central Region.

It is also the highway along which Ivoirians and our ECOWAS brothers and sisters from the west of Ghana come to Accra.

The unavailability of traffic lights on the $28-million road, whose re-construction began on February 2, 2004 and ended in February 2006, has also been another contributory factor to the spate of accidents on the road.

There are about 15 bus stops along this highway, but by Today’s count, it has only six traffic lights and most are out of order.

Those two situations plus the fact that the street is plied by an unending stream of vehicles that are speeding, Today observed, compels pedestrians to wait for interminable minutes before crossing the road.

Alarmed by this, parents who live on one side of the road, but have children attending school on the other side have either changed schools for them or completely withdrawn them from school for fear of accidents.

A student, Ms. Nelly Owusu-Asante, confirmed this and lamented thus, “There is no police presence in spite of the malfunctioning of the traffic lights—its affecting us and something should be done about that,” she said.

The traffic lights, residents say, “have not been functioning for some months now,” and together with the dysfunctional street lights, have become non-functional decorations along the Mallam Junction-Kasoa Highway.

Talking to residents Today learnt that the traffic lights were destroyed by speeding vehicles that run into them in accidents and the get away with destroying state property.  Some drivers confirmed this.

“Driving on the road at night is a major challenge to both motorist and pedestrians. If you are not careful you could crash your car.  We are thus taking this opportunity to call on authorities to act as soon as possible to restore the street and traffic lights,” said Mr. Kwasi Aning, a Trotro driver.

“Our roads have become a street of darkness, darkness so thick that it’s impossible to see the next approaching vehicle from a distance…we can’t just understand how the authorities will not heed us and do something about it,” lamented Mr. Wisdom Kumah, a teacher.

An official at the Axel Load Control also lamented about the malfunctioning street lights, which, according to him, “have persisted for almost three years.  “It baffles us,” he stated adding, “Even when it is repaired the erratic supply of power soon damages it again.”

Residents appealed to highway authorities to solve the problems on the highway.  “We cannot continue burying our loved ones,” one of them told Today.

STORY: KWAKU NTI

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