Editorial : Will removal of toll booths ease traffic?

November 19, 2021 By 0 Comments

 

The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, presented the 2022 economic policy of the government to Parliament on Wednesday, this week.  Among the highlights of his presentation was the abolishment of road tolls, which were reportedly raking in about GH¢79 million annually.

The reason for such a decision, according to the Minister, was to address the concerns expressed by drivers that tolling booths on our roads, especially those in the cities, were inconveniencing them, because they create unbearable traffic pileups.

The announcement has, however, been met with fierce resistance by traders who hawk around these toll booths to eke out a living. According to them, there was no prior notice before the policy statement was made public, and that they have been deprived off their source of livelihoods.

It is instructive to note that every economic policy that would be announced by government will definitely negatively affect portions of the population. The Chronicle is, therefore, not surprised the way the hawkers are reacting to the decision taken by the government.

The pressure will ease very soon, and we shall all come back to our normal way of life. The Chronicle does not, however, think the traffic situation in Accra and Kumasi will be abated very soon because of the removal of the toll booths on our roads.

As a newspaper, we did carry a story where a section of transport unions pleaded with the government to remove the toll booths and push the monies being collected onto fuel.

Whilst these concerns were genuine, we expected the government to have, first, conducted research to ascertain the impact before the final decision is taken to remove the toll booths to enable the free flow of traffic.

Though the removal of toll booths will ease traffic build up behind the Kasoa and Tema Motorway toll booths, it will not necessarily ensure the free flow of traffic on these heavily patronised roads.

One of the major problems confronting Accra today is flooding. Any medium downpour will result in the flooding of parts of the city. This is happening because all the wetlands that receive, retain, and release these rain waters in bits have been taken over by developers.

The natural duty of these wetlands is to collect huge volumes of water and store them, which are subsequently released gradually without causing any major flooding.

In our view, the toll booths were playing similar roles by retaining the traffic and releasing the vehicles gradually. But with this new order, as announced by the government, the traffic would flow from the toll booths alright, but the vehicles are eventually going to bunch up a few metres or miles from the main toll booths.

This means the traffic congestion palaver is only going to be solved at the toll booths and not the entire stretch of the road.

The Chronicle is, therefore, advising the government to review the decision, if it is only intended to solve traffic congestion, as complained by the drivers’ unions. In our view, it will not solve the traffic congestion as being anticipated.

But if the policy cannot be reversed, then we advise the government to start thinking of constructing interchanges at intersections on the tolled roads to ensure free flow of traffic.

On the Kasoa road for instance, there are several traffic intersections that are causing the nightmare for commuters, right from the Mallam Interchange through the West Hills Mall to the toll booth, and not necessarily the toll booth.