As Accra continues with its physical infrastructural development, its streets — some of them once prestigious thoroughfares — are now a pale shadow of what they used to be in the nation’s capital.
The Graphic Road, spanning the intersection at the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue to the Obetsebi Lamptey Interchange, appears to have lost the shine of an acclaimed major street.
Now riddled with rubbish, a weedy median, malfunctioning traffic lights and vandalised drain gratings along the stretch, it also contends with a makeshift market near the Graphic Press House and haphazard commercial ventures dotted on the pavements.
Tonnes of rubbish are generated from the activities of foodstuff traders, particularly on the walkway near the Graphic Press House, and scrap dealers while squatters add to the unsightly situation.
With the Graphic Communications Group Limited, Accra Brewery, Beyeeman Cold Store and other respected business concerns dotted along the stretch, the Graphic Road has long been held as a prominent street in the capital.
Every day, thousands of commuters to the Agbogbloshie Market and the central business district of Accra use the one-kilometre stretch.
But the weedy patches of the median and plastics littering the area have reduced the beauty of the Graphic Road and its environment.
However, the frontages of some companies with their prominent brand names on the buildings remain clean.
The apparent stealing of metal gratings on drain chambers that allow rainwater to flow into storm drains is a recurring problem.
Pedestrians and residents of the neighbourhood told the Daily Graphic that they suspected that the drain gratings were removed by scrap dealers.
At least, 15 of such drain gratings along the Graphic Road had been removed when the Daily Graphic took a deliberate tour of the stretch.
The drain chambers with removed covers, some of them positioned on curves, have become a danger to vehicles and pedestrians.
The metal covers are to prevent environmental contamination and damage to underground utility vaults used by utility companies and telecommunications operators.
Responsible citizens have taken up the task to secure life on the roads by placing signals on the open drain chambers to warn motorists and pedestrians of the potential danger ahead.
Community members who spoke to the Daily Graphic said they were not happy with the vandalisation of the drain gratings, and urged authorities to find a solution to the development.
Others also commended the Department of Urban Roads for replacing some of the worn-out and stolen drain gratings within the Adabraka community.
The malfunctioning traffic lights usually put pedestrians crossing the road in danger, especially around intersections.
Although police traffic wardens are sometimes deployed at some of these intersections to ensure smooth traffic flow, the stretch still records some accidents.
A resident of Adabraka, Kwame Anane, appealed to authorities to fix the traffic lights to avert a bigger problem, saying the traffic light system needed monitoring and maintenance to have it function well.
A worker in one of the companies on the Graphic Road also complained about the vandalisation of the gratings, and expressed worry about why nothing had been done about it for years.
Retrofitting drain gratings
Meanwhile, the Road Safety Engineer of the Department of Urban Roads, Pat Onny, told the Daily Graphic that the department was now retrofitting the drain gratings with newly designed metal grids to make it difficult for people to steal them.
“We are now retrofitting them to make it difficult for anyone to remove them.
The project is ongoing and so far, we have not recorded any theft at places we have placed the drain gratings,” she said.
She said unlike the old metal covers that were fixed on drains and covered with concrete, the new ones, affixed to hinges, were riveted into the concrete used to cover the drains.
The road safety engineer said the drain gratings were needed to allow the dislodging of drains to ensure the free flow of floodwater.
On sanitation, the Head of Public Affairs of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Gilbert Ankrah, said the assembly deployed sweepers to clean and collect debris on the section of the road which is under the jurisdiction of the assembly, indicating that the entire stretch fell under the jurisdiction of two other assemblies — the Ablekuma Central and the Korle Klottey Municipal assemblies.
He said the introduction of the street sweepers project, which was being piloted within the assembly’s jurisdiction, was high on the agenda to make Accra clean.
He, however, called on companies to collaborate with the assemblies to adopt open spaces to beautify and improve their aesthetics.
“We also encourage people to be watchdogs by reporting people who litter the streets or possibly arrest such persons and hand them over to the assembly for prosecution,” he said.
Efforts to get the Korle Klottey Municipal Assembly to comment on the situation were unsuccessful either because of officials unavailability or their refusal to make use of the opportunity.