The Kwame Nkrumah Interchange is a well noted business hub in the heart of the City Accra, with people from all walks of life engaging in one business venture or the other. Pedestrian walkways at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange have been taken over by hawkers, turning the relatively congested routes into a market place.
The siting of lorry stations at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange has resulted in heavy vehicular and human traffic in the area, with commuters patronising the goods and services peddled by hawkers and traders on the walkways.
The construction of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange by the Mahama administration, at an estimated cost of 74 million euros, was to help decongest the area off both human and vehicular traffic. The construction works became necessary when the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, which handles more than 84,000 vehicles from the arterial roads and their intersections, became inundated with heavy vehicular congestion, thereby retarding progress.
The project, which was undertaken by a Brazilian company, also included some pedestrian walkways along the roads to enable people walk safely to their destinations.
The project was not just the road component, but also included a Police Station, Fire Station, an Ambulance Station, and well-furnished offices of the Ghana Road Transport Union. It also included the monument of the late and first President of the First Republic, Kwame Nkrumah, with a garden and a fountain.
Inaugurating the project, then President John Dramani Mahama said: “The garden and fountain will also serve as a tourist attraction to generate revenue for development.”
The Chronicle, however, questions how we can attract tourists to a place where all the pedestrian walkways have been turned into selling points, with the city authorities unable to act.
It is pathetic to note how these walkways have been turned into mini-markets for some hawkers. People are now selling all kinds of items, ranging from aphrodisiacs, clothes, shoes to mobile phones, on the same route allocated for people to walk through, forcing them to use the main street where vehicles knock them down.
The Mayor of Accra, Nii Adjei Sowah, on assumption of office, declared a vigorous fight against hawkers on pedestrian walkways across the city, but the situation is rather worsening, especially at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange.
A Pedestrians Road Safety Action Plan for the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) 2018 – 2022, sighted by The Chronicle, reports that in Ghana, traffic deaths take the lives of about 1,800 people annually, with over 40 percent of these deaths being pedestrians.
Pedestrians are vulnerable road users, meaning they are easily susceptible to serious injury or death in traffic accidents.
The document noted that it has been established that pedestrian safety is key to road safety in the AMA, as most people walk at least some part of their journey each day, and most people killed and injured are pedestrians.
The Chronicle commend the AMA for putting together an action plan, but would like to find out if the implementation does not include making sure all pedestrian walkways were free from hawkers. Again, if plans are taken on paper without being executed properly, it is better off not put together.
The current situation at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, from Obra Spot through to the VIP bus terminal, has pedestrians squeezing themselves through a narrow path left by the hawkers, or walking on the street if no vehicle is approaching.
The vision of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to make Accra the cleanest city would
only materialise if action is taken.
The sad aspect is that, these sellers do not just appear immediately, just that those we pay with the taxpayer’s money have refused to do their job.
The Chronicle sees this development as a life-threatening one, and it is for this reason that we call on the AMA, the National Road Safety Commission, as well as the Motor Traffic and Transport Department to ensure that these hawkers are cleared from the walkways, to allow the free movement of people and vehicles.