The Traffic situation in Ghana

I am honestly yet  to meet someone who loves traffic congestion. It is just annoying especially when you happen to frequent the Nsawam-Circle road. The hurting part is, you have no choice but to sit in it and wait. People living in the cities in Ghana and even all over the world will agree with Rebecca Pidgeon’s words; “City life is stressful.

Everybody is running around like crazy, stuck in traffic jams trying to make meetings, trying to make ends meet, trying to meet deadlines, trying to get kids to and from activities. There aren’t enough hours in the day for all this business.” The sweat that gradually breaks on their faces for staying in the car for long hours, the fuel and gas that wastes away while the engine runs, waiting admits the fleet of cars to be ushered towards the same direction all show how uncomfortable the traffic situation is in Ghana.

Cities like Accra, Kumasi, Tema and Cape Coast all have to deal with hundreds and thousands of cars moving from one place to the other through their streets daily. Upon research the conclusion can be drawn that traffic congestion occurs mainly because there are a lot of cars in the system.

What could the cause be?

Everyone has to travel to and from work at the same time each day. Everybody wants to look “successful” so either buys, or rents a car. Because of the rapid increase in population, commercial vehicles are also increasing. Then, we move to poor road management. It is ironic how we have departments responsible for road maintenance but rarely see our roads being properly preserved. Again a large number of the traffic signaling systems are faulty especially those on the Accra-Kumasi stretch. In a bid to dodge traffic and get to work early, drivers end up creating more blockages and worsening the traffic situation. The traffic jam especially in Accra is a very regular activity in several cities all over the country. This occurs commonly during the morning and evening rush hours, which are mostly between 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. respectively. Places like Labadi beach hotel through to Police headquarters in Accra do not have traffic signals hence the norm to see traffic congestion on the stretch mostly on weekdays.

Why does it affect productivity?

Productivity is every economy’s key aim. Great productivity means, more job opportunities, more revenue and less scarcity of resources. It may be a cliché but very true; “Time is Money”. While people are waiting in their various cars and buses to get to work and school, a considerable amount of time is being wasted on the streets. People get to work late and get little time to do effective work before the day is over. As a nation, more work means more productivity and more revenue. Excessive delay in work output will inevitably result in a snail growing economy. Our leaders know how disturbing sitting in traffic can be and so they have their police escorts and sirens to liberate them of that headache. How about the citizens who need to get to work to pay their taxes? How about the school children who need to get to school to end up contributing positively to the Ghanaian economy? How about the trucks that need to get to the harbor for export? How about the food trucks that need to deliver goods for sale in our markets? Having to sit for hours in the heat leaves most workers tired and already worn out for work. While the engine runs, the air is being polluted hence degrading the entire environmental condition. Impatient drivers also tend to honk indiscriminately in a bid to rush other drivers to be faster and this also contributes to excessive noise pollution. It seems we need a reminder, that a nation can grow only from collective efforts and contribution to its development.

Obviously traffic congestion can’t be the only reason a nation is less productive but it is one of the major reasons only does it waste valuable time and drain people of their energy. It also places a high on demand on energy resources. Where energy in this context refers to fuel and gas. While the engines are running so is the fuel, petrol and gas creating a raise it demands for those products.

Some researchers argue that, traffic congestion is a sign that a nation is being productive. In that, if a nation is productive, there will be more money and hence an increase in the standard of living where people will like to be more comfortable in their own cars for example, instead of sharing a public vehicle. Therefore, there will be more cars and hence the congestion.

Who is responsible

Roads in Ghana vary in quality and size. Responsibility for the road network differs between trunk (an important main road used for long-distance travel.) and non-trunk routes. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Roads and Highways to administer, plan, develop and maintain roads and all other related facilities in the country. The Ministry in the past years has undergone developmental projects to improve our road transport systems like the Construction of Awoshie-Pokuase Road – Community Upgrading Works.

Also, while the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD), is responsible for road safety in Ghana, the highway patrol Unit (HPU) also known as traffic police is in charge of enforcing traffic safety compliance on roads and highways. The HPU are also known as foot officers on point duty who control traffic at junctions, play a key role in determining how the traffic congestion situation in Accra is managed. The traffic situation cannot be totally resolved but can be eased up. During rainfall seasons or sunny days, most foot officers do not report to their posts to direct traffic. This is because they are few. Normally a foot officer stands at a post from morning to evening. When they get tired of standing, they leave their respective posts while the traffic still remains.

 

Possible solutions.

To reduce traffic jam, government can consider construction of

In many places, commuters are forced away from public transport by the private companies which run them. Increasing fare prices, especially on the trains, make driving a car with its associated high fuel costs cheaper than public transport. By pushing people back to their cars again they only exasperate the congestion problem.

In conclusion, congestion is mainly caused by a desire for people to drive their cars coupled with a failure by local government to act. If they invested in more affordable public transport options and a better infrastructure the incidence of congestion would decrease in major cities.

 

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