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September 18, 2007 | Editorial

Solving traffic congestion in Ghana

In the developed world, the word “time” is considered as an essential part of human activity. As a result, mechanisms have been put in place to ensure effective use of one's time. For instance, buses and trains work according to a schedule therefore one can easily rely on them to schedule the time one should get to the work place and even when travelling long distances.

Because of the way the public transport system has been designed in these countries, people do not travel with cars to their places of work - they all use public transport thus reducing congestion on the roads, which in turn boosts productivity.

These developed countries have also promoted the use of bikes, which apart from serving as a form of exercise also helps to reduce fuel consumption thereby saving money for the Government to tackle other sectors of the economy.

Cities such as Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Berlin among others, use bikes as their main form of transport because the system has been very well structured. Those who have the means and could afford driving in flashy cars are seen biking to their places of work.

Unfortunately for us in Ghana cars are a luxury therefore everybody wants to drive in one to the work place. The situation has been compounded by the virtually non-existent public transport system in the country. As a result Ghanaians spend several hours in traffic and by the time they finally get to their work places they are well tired.

At the end of the day we have low productivity thus thwarting the rapid development of the country.

The Government in its attempt to salvage the situation has been expanding road networks in almost all our major cities but the more they expand, the more people import cars for their domestic use.

Our engineers are also not helping the system as they continue to design roads without bicycle lanes as done in the developed world in order to encourage people to resort to the use of bikes. At the end of the day, we come back to the same problem - traffic congestion.

Chronicle would therefore like to advise the Government to seriously consider the development of a rail system in our cities. It may not take a day to achieve this but as the saying goes, a journey of thousand miles begins with a step. If an antidote is not found to this traffic problem, a time would come when it would completely get out of hand.

In Mexico City for instance, they have a system where both trains and vehicles use the same road but tracks for the former are fenced.

Ghana can also do same by using the islands in the Ring Roads from the La Hospital all the way to the Mallam Junction in Accra. In Kumasi, it could be done from KNUST Junction to Kejetia. The Chronicle believes that if the Government is able to achieve this and the trains run according to time, the solution to this current traffic problem would in sight.

We will also like to suggest that all roads including those that are yet to be designed in our major cities be provided with bicycle lanes. When this is done the metropolitan authorities would begin to promote its use. The problem as it stands now demands a multiple approach in solving the congestion problem and we hope the Government and our engineers will listen the suggestion we have offered here.

The Chronicle will also like to advice our city planners to come out with the number of people a particular city can accommodate. A city like Berlin, for example, has been designed to accommodate five million people. It currently has 3.5 million. Because of the original design they have the facilities that can cater for the five million people.

We need to learn from some of these developed countries so that we can also avoid chaos and congestion on our roads.

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