Yesterday, I spent almost two and a half hours in gridlock between Kaneshie First Light and Mallam Junction; a stretch I could cover in less than 20 minutes on a ‘normal’ day. Not that it was entirely strange. It’s pretty much my routine, and surely those of others who live on the western side of Accra. The only difference this time is that the Ghana Highways Authority and the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) project teams chose the start of the rainy season, and a period when many schools in Accra have resumed school, to construct drainage between the Mallam Interchange and the McCarthy Hills traffic intersection. Whoever did the social impact analysis for this project definitely deserves some accolades, won’t you say?
While in the very slow moving traffic (often, we stood still for several minutes), I couldn’t help but notice the frustration and seething anger of many drivers. One could tell the fuel levels of a vehicle by merely looking at the face of the driver. Some drivers were angry at virtually everything including pedestrians who crossed the road. And if a driver as much as tried to cross into the lane of another, charley, it was chaotic.
So this morning, over our usual bowl of waakye against Orijin Zero (Nicholas Addo, abeg this is free advert. You know what to do), my boss Selorm Tetteh and I attempted a peep into the future of this nation.
We have been thinking, why is it taking us almost two hundred years to do what the rest of the world had done? Provision of safe, decent and convenient public transportation system for our people. Accra is gradually becoming an unlivable city. The rich and retired are living in the prime areas like Cantonments, Labone, Ridge etc. The young and energetic working class is living in dormitory towns several kilometres from the city. With the roads not expanding to meet the increase in vehicular numbers, we all know what the implications are for economic productivity.
Elsewhere, my friend Vivi drew my attention to strides being made by Hyperloop to build a vacuum-sealed tunnel that would shoot pods between cities at up to 700 miles per hour. Yes, that is like traveling from Accra to Tamale by high speed train in just one hour. You see, this thinking alone leaves us another 200 years behind the rest of the world.
While people are investing in futuristic transportation, we are building an axle-weighing bridge on the motorway, without recourse to what plans there are for its expansion. There are two new ‘bus stops’ at the opposite sides of the Steel Works/TT Brothers junction on the Dawhenya road. Does anyone know if those are part of the intended motorway expansion project? Or those are just some haphazardly conceived projects for which somebody has taken 10%?
We have been thinking of many things. We have been thinking solutions too. We have been thinking that our problems are solvable. We have agreed with my friend Vivi that we cannot close the 200 years gap by taking incremental steps. We’d have to skip. We must drive our people forward as quickly as yesterday. Vivi says,
“…Africa must skip the past 200 years completely. Just skip right over it. Technology will take care of it. It is not escapable. Just skip over the last 200 years of development. It is useless at this point….build new infrastructure based upon what is possible tomorrow, not what was created yesterday”
So we say something quite cataclysmic must happen and very quickly too. The recommendations are many, but we summed up in a few words. We need leadership that’s not afraid of thinking. We need a president who must NOT BE A POLITICIAN.
Time no dey.