The Accra-Tema Motorway is, arguably, one of the most impressive road networks in Africa constructed under the leadership of Ghana's first president, the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in the 1960s. The 25-kilometer motorway was built to near Autobahn (Germany) proportions and it was supposed to be a benchmark for future highway construction in Ghana.
Today, many people use that route with trepidation. That stretch of highway, linking Accra to the eastern corridor has become a death trap for motorists and commuters.
President Jerry Rawlings escaped with bruises after an accident on Sunday October 30, 2000, in which four bodyguards traveling in his convoy were killed, officials said. Reports said the accident happened when a car drove onto the motorway from an unauthorized route, causing some cars in the presidential convoy to crash. Three cars were destroyed. Rawlings and his wife Nana Konadu suffered light bruises and were treated at the 37 Military Hospital. Hospital sources said three more bodyguards were injured and were to be operated on.
Then on Friday, May 2, 2008, Ghanaians woke up in the morning to hear the horrifying news that one of the nation´s ace actors, Kwame Owusu-Ansah a.k.a. African Child had been involved in a motor accident on the Accra-Tema Motorway the previous night. According to reports, the actor was traveling alone in his Toyota Camry when his car ran into a cargo truck ahead of him on the Accra-Tema Motorway. He died a few hours later.
The accident involving ex-President Rawlings and Owusu-Ansah are just examples of the disturbing statistics of high-profile tragedies being recorded virtually on weekly basis on the Accra-Tema Motorway.
The National Road Safety Commission reports that the Motorway has recorded 16 fatal accidents within the first two months of 2009, claiming the lives of 15, with 23 injuries.
Barely a week ago, two women were allegedly robbed and raped by four young criminals on the Motorway at about 7.30pm when the victims had alighted from a commercial vehicle and were about to cross the dual carriageway to the Spintex Road. This is also another statistics of the numerous cases of highway robbery that have turned the Motorway into an alley of nightmare for both motorists and commuters.
When the 25-kilometer Accra-Tema Motorway was opened to traffic in 1964, it was mainly to link two major cities - Accra, the national capital, and Tema, the emerging industrial and port city.
At that time, Dr Kwame Nkrumah foresaw heavy vehicular traffic building between the two cities, reaching its peak when his dream of transforming Tema into the industrial hub of the newly-independent Ghana began to materialize.
Those who were old enough would recall that in those days once one exited Accra, the only place of call was Tema, unless, of course, one was continuing towards Ho and beyond or Aflao, the country´s eastern gateway.
Today, 45 years later, the Accra-Tema Motorway cannot be said to be playing the same role envisaged at its inauguration. The Motorway now carries heavy traffic destined for not only Tema and its numerous satellite settlements on the east but also for new communities that have sprung up on the western side.
New residential areas on the western side of the Motorway include East Legon, Adjiriganno, Trassaco Valley and the still-under-development Borteiman Estate.
On the eastern side are numerous factories, bonded warehouses, shopping malls, banks and several residential estates. Among the residential areas are Tema communities 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20. Apart from these are private estates belonging to the National Trust Holding Company (NTHC), Hydrafom, Devtraco, Coastal, Frempomaa, Parakuo, Regimanuel-Gray and many others. Among the industrial establishments are the giant Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Printex, Johnson Wax, Kasapreko, Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company and Papaye, the food giant.
From the above, it is obvious that the Motorway had long ceased to be an express way linking two cities, to become virtually a street running through several townships or residential settlements. And with this dramatic development comes along the attendant challenges: accidents that constantly claim lives, armed robbery, problems with security, etc.
Ghana´s only motorway has been without lights since it was built in l964. On June 20, 2002, the GNA reported that government is spending ¢19.5 billion to light up the motorway to commemorate the country´s Golden Jubilee in 2007. Almost seven years down the line, the Accra-Tema Motorway Lighting Project has been suspended due to extensive cable thefts. The contractors on the project, All Afra Electrical, have complained that about 34,000 metres of underground cables valued at more than GH¢400,000, were stolen last year.
ADOM FM is embarking on a special crusade to highlight some of the dangers on the multi-purpose highway: the rampant criminal activities on the motorway, the broken down bridges, the pot-holes, stolen side-rails, mal-functioning street light, and lack of reflectors, broken down vehicles, and above all road safety.
Adom FM´s love for the Accra-Tema Motorway is not just because it is Ghana's historical legacy to its people. The economic importance of the route is immeasurable. However, the route is desperately calling for urgent attention from Government, through the various stakeholders to the general public.
THE TIME TO SAVE THE ACCRA-TEMA MOTORWAY IS NOW!!!