Road Tolls and Accountability: The Hole(!) in the Accra-Tema Motorway

I probably should not write this as my parents will be worried when they read it, but the Accra-Tema motorway (or Tema-Accra motorway as we who live in Tema call it) is falling apart.

When I drove to work on Tuesday, I was halted by some serious traffic after just a kilometer or so. I assumed it was one of the common accidents, but was surprised to find the traffic was caused by a hole in one of the bridges on the motorway. The water below could be seen through the hole…

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I subsequently tweeted a warning:

All traveling from Tema to Accra, be careful as one of the bridges, right lane, has a big, gaping hole! @Citi973 @BloggingGhana

— Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) March 11, 2014

As I returned home in the evening around 8PM, the traffic now stretched from the hole all the way to Tema. I tweeted that too:

This evening the #motorway hole caused major traffic…what is being done? @YoungSirGh @BloggingGhana @police_gov_gh @Citi973

— Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) March 11, 2014

This morning, I set my alarm to 5.30 AM to “dodge” the traffic, but was still caught for 30 min by it and tweeted that too (that is what I do when stuck!)

Today’s “hole traffic” already winding on the Tema side of the #motorway @RichardDelaSky @BloggingGhana @InformGhana pic.twitter.com/D2jQUqVHLk

— Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) March 12, 2014

I was happy to just minutes later hear the CitiFM Morningshow crew bringing the issue up and even calling the Minister for Roads and Highways for an explanation. Driving on the Accra-Tema motorway is not free, I pay toll every time I enter, so does everyone else. Finding that the road is not well maintained, that street lights and railings which get hit never are replaced and  holes in the bridges (not the first time) makes me angry! Where is that money?

They are now going to do repairs, but morning show host Bernard Avle asked an important question:

“What is the status of other bridges on the motorway?”- @benkoku @Citi973

— Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) March 12, 2014

As I drive on the motorway everyday, I would like to know. I think my parents would like to know too.

Earlier posts on the motorway: New Ghana Road Tolls Today, One Year of Road Toll in Ghana: My Experience and Kwame Nkrumah: The city of Tema (part 2).

 

 

Friends of the National Museum in Ghana

Photo: Kajsa Hallberg Adu

As part of the nation building of the infant national state of Ghana in the late 1950s, Kwame Nkrumah planned for a museum park in central Accra.

None of the museums were completed, but the National Museum moved into the museum auditorium and has since been open for visitors. I wrote an article about the museum in in 2008 for a museum news letter in Sweden.

On Thursday 29 March 2012, a new era starts for the museum as this month’s Adventurers in the Diaspora (AiD) event takes place at the national museum in Accra and inaugurates a support organization, Friends of the National Museum.

The aim of the non-profit is:

“to support the work of the Museum and provide a platform for the museum to engage with the artistic community, benefactors and the general public in a positive, economically viable and purposeful way.”

Friends of the National Museum write on their website that all are invited at 7.30 PM for the launch of the organization and a discussion on why heritage matters.

See you there!

One Year of Road Toll in Ghana: My Experience

Last first of February, I woke up to a new reality. The previous silly-low road toll for taking the motorway to town had been increased ten-fold! That day, I joined the long queue of surprised motorists and payed my 50 pesewas to go in the morning, and 50 pesewas on the way home. All in all 1 GHC per day, at least 20 days a month ever since.

I was one of the ones who, despite the sharp price increase, was happy. I told anyone who wanted to listen that now things would change. First of all, it didn’t make sense to wait 5-15 min at a toll booth to pay the equivalent of two-three cents. But more importantly, deep holes in the concrete motorway, broken/non-existent street lights and pedestrians crossing at any given point would be a distant memory. We would all be able to go to work SAFELY. Wasn’t that worth 1 GHC per day?

A year has passed and the 20 x 12 = 240 GHC that I have payed has unfortunately resulted in very little:

  • One more road toll station has been completed, making queuing a few minutes shorter (It opened two weeks ago)
  • The informal exit to communities 18-19 has been tarred (but no signs or white lines making the exit a hazard)
  • Some potholes have been mended (but new, deeper ones have also appeared)

I must say I am disappointed. I never expected to a year after paying decent road tolls still drive home in  the dark. Even white lines to mark the sides of the road are not there.

Statistics reported on Joy FM on the 20th of January said that already this year (that is 2-19th Jan 2011), 724 vehicles had been involved in car accidents in Ghana. 580 people had been injured and 120 had died.

When will Ghana start taking road safety seriously?

>Meet the Snow Leopard Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong

>
I remember the first time I heard of Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong…A Ghanaian man, raised in tropical Africa, who six years ago for the first time stood on a pair of skis…and now is going to compete in the Olympic games in Slalom (or downhill skiing for you who are still not familiar with snow).

Could this be for real? Can a Ghanaian ski professionally? Is it Fool’s day?

My my sarcasms quickly went away as I (again) had to realize that life is so much better than fiction. Here are some other facts:

* He shares names with Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah.
* Some marketing team has come up with the brilliant idea of calling him “the snow leopard”.
* The problem for Nkrumah Acheampong has been financial rather than physical, see my fellow blogger David Ajao‘s post here.
*A Ghanaian government official flew to Vancouver to wish him “good luck”, source Reuters.
*His goal for the olympics was “not to come last”
*He actually skied better than 7 others…
*…Or at least skied better than one other skier as the other six were disqualified or did not finish the competition. See results here
*He now wants to teach kids how to ski – in Ghana! Reuters got this wonderful quote:

“We’ve got the site and everything. It’s just to get all the equipment, the bulldozers to level out all the rough patches, grow the grass and — Bingo!, we’re there.”

What can I say, life is better than fiction, especially the life of Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong!

Pic: From the official Vancouver athlete page here.

>Kwame Nkrumah: Known by Many Names

> This collection of Nkrumah’s (positive) nicknames is being showed at Nubuke Foundation, more details on the exhibit here.

The Messiah
The Saviour
Fountain of Honour
Teacher
Redeemer
Leader
The Infallible
The Ideological Mentor
Show Boy (Which Maya Maame blogged on here)
Osagyefo (Redeemer in Twi)
Asomdwehene (King of Peace)
Oyeadieeyie (Repairman, someone who puts things right)
Kasapreko (Someone who speaks her/his mind)

Blogger AntiRhythm adds two historically interesting names to the list. His christian name “Francis” – and the confused misspelled name that FBI used in their file “Ukrumah”, read the stories here and here.

Time Magazine, in August 1962, added “Africa’s biggest ego” to the list.

>Kwame Nkrumah: The City of Tema (Part 2)

>Landmarks in concrete.

The Cocoa Silos

The Kwame Nkrumah Motorway

One of these monolithic structures were never used. The other is the backbone of the Greater Accra economy.

I amuse myself with thinking about if the two had been used – and developed – since the 1960s.

What do you think, does it matter?

>Kwame Nkrumah: The City of Tema (Part 1)

> Over this week, we have a Kwame Nkrumah theme at Ghanablogging.

I thought I’d write about an important aspect of Nkrumah’s legacy. The industrial harbor town of Tema. My new hometown. (I know its beside the point, but also there is almost nothing about Tema, GH, online!)

Let’s start my exposé on Tema with Nkrumah’s own words. We go back to February 10th, 1962 and the Official Opening of the Tema Harbor. Kwame Nkrumah walks up to a podium and gives his speech.

“By taking advantage of the river systems of West Africa, it should be possible – again, by concerted action – to connect the hinterland, far outside the boarders of Ghana, with this great port of Tema. Thus, in this harbour of Tema, we see a unifying force and an essential requirement in the progress towards African Unity”

Hence, Tema was just one part of the grandiose plan of Africa rising. Tema should be a harbor not just for Ghana, but for Africa. Still today, Burkina Faso, Mali and other landlocked countries are highly dependent on the Tema harbor. What whould they be today without this sea port?

Nkrumah continued his speech with comparing the existing Takoradi harbor “designed by the colonialists to facilitate the exportation of the wealth of the country” to this new sea port. He said:

“Tema is the sign post of the future. It represents the purposeful beginning of the industrialisation of Ghana. It is the signal for industrial expansion, a challenge to our industry and intelligence and a hope for the future.”

Tema and its connection to a bright Pan-African future will be my starting point for future deliberations on Tema.

Pic: My first view of the Tema harbor, Xmas 2004.

>Kwame Nkrumah: Events in Commemoration

> There have been complaints about that Ghana has not managed to plan the centennial of Kwame Nkrumah’s birth very successfully. See for instance popular journalist Ato Kwamina Dadzie discuss it here.

It might be true, but let me in the interest in what actually has been planned not go into it further, but instead kick off the KWAME NKRUMAH WEEK with the following Nkrumah celebratory events.

1. Sunday 13th September (today!), Nubuke Foundation opens its photo exhibit of Kwmae Nkrumah’s life. In addition to the enlarged photos, a document called a “lexicon” will be presented chronicling Nkrumah’s life and deeds. Time: 3.30PM. The exhibit can be viewed until 10th of October. (see picture)

2. Monday-Tuesday 14-15th September, The Dubois Center in collaboration with some other groups organize a symposium. Monday it will be situated at University of Ghana, Tuesday at the center in Labone, Accra. Time: 9AM-5 PM both days.

3. Thursday-Sunday 17-20 September, festivities in Nkrumah’s hometown Nkroful organized by the Kwame Nkrumah Centenary Planning Committee announced on Peace FM and referred here.

Hope to see you at some of these events!

>Next week: Blogs on Kwame Nkrumah

> All of next week, a group of Ghanaian bloggers including myself has decided to dedicate to Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah.

The week leads up to Nkrumah’s 100th Birthday, celebrated on the 21st of September.

As Kwame Nkrumah had enormous impact on Ghana and all of Africa, I hope you will read some of the other Ghanaian blogs this upcoming week. They can be found on or Ghanablogging aggregator here.

Pic: One of the most used photos of Nkrumah, tinted purple by me. Who was the photographer?

>Conference Season in Ghana: ASWAD

> New week, new conference. This time it is the 5th Biennial Conference for the Association for the Study of the World Wide African Diaspora.

The conference, which has the title “Africa, Diaspora, and Pan-African Agendas”, has been going on since Sunday, however unfortunately I haven’t been able to go to every day. In addition to my spotty attendance, about five workshops and panels happen at once so I have probably just experienced a fraction of this year’s conference but what I know for sure, to paraphrase Oprah, is

1. It is the first ASWAD conference on African soil

2. Kwame Nkrumah would have turned 100 years this year

3. We still dont know enough about slavetrade and its consequences

4. Diasporan and African studies need to converge for any Pan-African agenda to progress

And finally and most uplifting:

5. A new generation of Pan-Africanists is emerging!

In the pic, the new generation of Pan-Africanists (including Robtel Neajai Pailey, Carina Ray and myself) listen to one of the old-school activists, Jaqueline Ki-Zerbo.

>Nkrumah’s Daughter

>On Sunday evening, I had the privilege of meeting Honorable Samia Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah‘s daughter – and herself currently an MP for CPP – at an event. Here’s the photographic evidence.

And while I’m shamelessly bragging, the man sandwiched between us is also an MP, Honorable George Blankson more specifically from Mfantsepim Constituency where my Ghanaian family has its roots!

Interestingly the event was hosted by another Ghanaian leader’s daughter, Professor Abena Busia who is the daughter of Prime minister Dr. Abrefa Busia. As Dr. Busia was the leader of the opposition against Kwame Nkrumah and his party CPP whose reign ended with a coup d’etat, I thought it was very appropriate – even touching – of Prof. Busia when she publicly acknowledged Samia Nkrumah in the audience and with a few words put history behind us.

I have earlier written about Kwame Nkrumah here and here.

>Trying To Fit In

> I have tried some different approaches to integrate into Ghanaian society. I have had dresses made in Ghanaian materials and styles, eaten the spicy foods (with my right hand of course) and learned the difference between the different starchy staples. I have drank Star beer and ginger juice, cheered for Kotoko Hearts in soccer and come to appriciate that in social situations providing details is not required (i.e. saying “I’m coming, eh” when leaving).

I have reached some understanding into the culture and I walk my guests out- longer than to the gate -, also I argue about small change when I think the taxi is too expensive and I can sustain a discussion about Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah for hours.

But by far, the most efficient way to become a part of my new world has been trying to pick up the local language, Twi. Me da wo ase (thanks) and Afehyia pa (Happy New Year!) has made people laugh and take to me like no dress or taxi fight ever did. How I wish that in my homeland Sweden a tack or gott nytt! could do the same for those trying to integrate there.

In the pic from yesterday I try to fit in to a kids pool area in a seaside restaurant in Tema.