Despite redevelopment of Kejetia: Congestion is still a major challenge
When residents of Kumasi heard about the re-development of the Kejetia Lorry Terminal in 2014 by the government of Ghana, they were very happy, but little did they know that the project was rather going to worsen the transport system of the Garden City.
Barely eight months after the new Kejetia became operational, The Chronicle has observed that the transport system in Kumasi has morphed from bad to worse, with transport owners operating on the shoulders of the roads in the Central Business District (CBD).
Before the redevelopment of the lorry terminal, it could accommodate a minimum of 1,200 vehicles, but the figure has now whittled down to only 105 vehicles, representing 1% of the 1,200 capacity.
As a result of this development, vehicle and car owners are using every available space to load and offload passengers and cargo, thus creating inconvenience for the pedestrians.
Observers who spoke to The Chronicle argued that lack of proper planning by the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly is also contributing to the problem.
Places such as the Race Course and Afia Kobi market, which the assembly apportioned to some transport organisations a holding area, could not work out effectively owing to poor supervision and planning. This has resulted in on-the-street parking and loading in the CBD.
As such, all entries into the CBD are characterised by vehicular traffic, with hawkers also contributing to the menace.
In fact, The Chronicle, can report on authority that pedestrians risk being knocked down by vehicles, after KMA sanctioned on-street stations for trotro and taxis to take passengers.
Investigation carried out by The Chronicle has established that hundreds of vehicles are using residential areas as their parking spaces in Kumasi. Examples of these areas include; Asem, Fante New-Town, Brisco, Krobo Odumase (K.O) and Adum among others.
Prior to the construction of the Kejetia mega project, drivers operating from the terminal went on several demonstrations against the project, expressing worry that they will lose their source of livelihood, but the KMA refuted the claim at the time.
The first phase of the redevelopment started in 2015, valued at a cost of US$259,425,000 by the John Dramani Mahama government.
The project included an ultra-modern market with 8,420 stores, a clinic, a police station, social & recreational centre, ICT centre, post office, fire post, banks and a Day-Care Centre. It was completed in late 2018.
Sod cutting for the phase two redevelopment of the Kumasi Central Market was done by Nana Addo Dankwah and Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, on May 2, 2019 for work to commence.
The phase two is estimated to cost $248 million, to be financed by Deutsche Bank of Germany with credit guarantee from UK Export finance and to be completed within a time frame of 48 months.
When completed the market will have 6,500 leased stalls, 5,400 stores, 800 kiosks, 50 restaurants, 40 livestock stores, 210 fish monger and butcher spaces and community facilities of 1,800 square meters. It is estimated to cover a total area of 172,197 square
Located at the central point in Kumasi, the Kejetia Lorry Terminal, which was formerly known as Prince Wales Park, established in 1939 as a lorry terminal by the Manhyia Palace, served as a means of transport to every part of Ghana and beyond. In fact, cars shuttling between Ghana and Burkina Faso were operating from Kejetia.
A station manager of one of the un-authorised transport stations, who spoke to The Chronicle on condition of anonymity, said they themselves are not happy operating on the side of the road, but the situation has compelled them to do so. He alleged that the KMA itself asked them to operate on the street.
The Station Master for Atonsu station, adjacent to the central market, Mr. Kwame Aboagye, also expressed worry over the on-street station initiative. He indicated that because of the impending December polls, the KMA city guards have disappeared from their end, but they are indeed a nuisance to their work.
In a telephone interview with the National Chairman of GPRTU, Nana Brasiamah, he admitted that indeed the construction of the new Kejetia Lorry Terminal has affected their operations.
However, he told The Chronicle that the GPRTU, being a leading stakeholder in the Ghanaian transport industry has moved on from the Kejetia Lorry Terminal.
According to him, His Royal Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has allocated them a land, which they are developing into a modern lorry terminal.
In an interaction with a number of drivers in Kumasi, they expressed worry about the difficulty they endure when they drive through the CBD.
They wondered why city authorities were undertaking this development without finding solutions to the congestion in the CBD.
Speaking to a driver who mentioned his name as ‘Boat’, he explained that owing to the congestion at the CBD, he does not use any of the routes in the area, citing the two roundabouts around the new Kejetia as a nuisance.
Another driver, who spoke to The Chronicle on condition of anonymity, expressed worry about the transport system in the CBD, asking if there are city authorities in Kumasi.
Mr. Cecil Ebow Garbrah, the Executive Director of Toptech Transport and Logistics, also told this reporter that Kumasi has not got a lot of access roads, which he said is a serious situation. According to him, 80% of businesses are centred around Kejetia, which is making movement around the area very difficult.
He, therefore, recommended the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) to deal with the challenge at the CBD. He noted that these buses are used only in segregated roads. Those roads cannot be used by any other vehicle. These buses, Cecil noted, can carry large number of passengers.
He indicated that segregated routes cannot be used by ordinary vehicles because it is not accessible to ordinary vehicles. To him, if the government of Ghana could consider BRT, it would help a lot.
He stated that if all vehicles will park for the buses to operate, there would not be too much traffic in the world, however, drivers will not understand because they would like to show off their vehicles. People drive their cars alone, not even with their family.
This development, Garbrah opined, was a waste of time, energy, fuel and also causes pollution because every vehicle emits a lot of carbon dioxide.
Ebow Garbrah pointed out that bus stops must be kept away from such busy places. “There should be stations inside, maybe about 200 meters away from the major road and these must be made compulsory for commercial vehicles to operate from,” he stated
On the issue of human traffic, where pedestrians cross roads as one of the causes of congestion, he explained that people are adamant and would not cross roads from the right places. Even if you give them pedestrians crossing, they will not cross the road at the right place, so we need a lot more enforcement.
Reacting to the transport congestion in the CBD on Kumasi-based OPEMSUO FM, the consultant for the construction firm which undertook the Kejetia project, Mr. Emmanuel Danso said the Kejetia redevelopment project is in three phases – Kejetia as the Phase One, construction of the Central Market as Phase Two and the extension of the market at Aboabo station as Phase Three.
He noted that Kejetia and Central Market project is like someone building a ten bedroom house which is being developed in phases. Until the project is completed, one will not understand the entire project.
He noted that because of the anticipated congestion, the Asantehene gave them the Race Course as a holding bay.
Mr. Danso stated, “We came and met 24 unions at the time of Mayor Kojo Bonsu, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with these transport unions. After the MOU, offices were created for all these transport unions.
“This means that each union will have two cars operating from the new Kejetia, so when a driver reaches Kejetia, we have a place called drop off, where passengers will alight. The driver then moves to Race Course to wait for his turn to come and pick passengers at Kejetia.”
He cited transport regulations at the Kumasi terminal of the Jeoun VIP where drivers drive from their holding bay to pick passengers to Accra as a typical example.
Mr. Danso told the listeners that if these measures, which were agreed on were put into use, there would not have been any congestion in the CBD of Kumasi.
Danso further said the trotro drivers, who do not belong to transport unions (Waawaa) pick passengers at unauthorised places, causing traffic in the city, saying that if the decisions they took were implemented, we would not have experienced this congestion.
“I can say that the congestion in the town is not because of the Kejetia project. The drivers unions all understood the agreement and we explained that the phase of the project, which the groundbreaking was done by Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, would see the entire ground floor being made a car park. There would not be single stalls. By the time we complete the entire project, we would have a lot of parking space”, Mr Danso said.
In an interview with the head of Transport at the KMA, Mr. Randy Wilson, he told this paper that indeed there has been a challenge in the transport system in the CDB.
However, Wilson noted that that the crisis is being managed, disclosing that they have set up on-street stations as a means of containing transport system in the CBD.
Contradicting the statement from the spokesperson for the Brazilian Company, which built the market, he argued that with Kejetia being the main source of commercial activities, it was prudent to bring the vehicles close to Kejetia than people walking to Race Course and Abinkyi to board vehicles to their destinations.
He told this paper that a lot of measures were rolled out to address the congestion in town, but enforcement became a challenge.
According to him, in the wake of the re-development Kejetia, they were told the basement would be used as parking space for commercial vehicles, but that is not what is at play at Kejetia.