Illuminating Accra’s Dark Alleys

The beauty of cities all over the world is enhanced by a number of infrastructural facilities. These include well-designed buildings, good roads illuminated at night by street lights, landscaping at roundabouts and other vantage points, good drainage and refuse disposal systems.

Most cities in our part of the world lack a number of these facilities or all of them, thus reducing the aesthetic attraction of such communities.

In the 1970s, the National Redemption Council (NRC) regime introduced an elaborate street lights project in Accra and other regional capitals in the country.

The initiative enhanced the beauty of these cities, especially at night, and also helped to expose criminal activities in the night.

Other regimes added to this project as new roads were built and also maintained existing ones.

Somehow, we were unable as a nation to sustain the street lights project. Existing ones were not maintained and those that were added on as a result of new roads ended up in many instances as museum pieces.

During the preparations for the observance of the Golden Jubilee of the country, the government put in place plans to renew facilities and build new ones to ensure a successful celebration.

Some of these facilities included street lights but some of them never worked although we know that beyond the aesthetic, street lights help in crime combat.

The safety of motorists and pedestrians, who use the many roads in Accra at night, is always compromised without street lights.

While some of the street lights have been knocked down by vehicles, others have had their cables stolen, rendering them non-functional.

The situation has made some criminals to take undue advantage of the situation to strike at their victims, even during previously-considered safe hours. It has also made some drivers to use high lights which unduly blind oncoming drivers with its attendant accidents.

It is in this vein that the Daily Graphic welcomes the initiative of the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum to inject some power into the street lights in Accra. A Deputy Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mr John Jinapor, has intimated that apart from beautification purposes, the government intends to use the project as a security strategy to fight crime in Accra by throwing light on the nocturnal activities of criminals, thus beating them to retreat.

It is disheartening that street lights levy is embedded in electricity bills of consumers and yet they are overwhelmed with darkness in the streets at night. One wonders where those levies go or what they are used for.

Typical of the Ghanaian, we have always failed to question the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) which collects the levy.

Nonetheless, the Daily Graphic is happy that the sector ministry has constituted a team to execute the Accra street light re-fitting project. We expect the team to tackle the project with all the seriousness it deserves to ensure that it is executed promptly. The project must also be extended to other regional capitals to refit the street lights there.

The Daily Graphic also expects the ministry to be transparent in its implementation to ensure that we get value from the contractors.

The darkness that has engulfed Accra does not speak well of the capital, touted as the gateway to West Africa.

The Daily Graphic urges the managers of the project to ensure that upon its completion, they adopt a comprehensive maintenance culture that will ensure that our streets are never left in the dark.

In the meantime, we urge the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum to ask the ECG to account for the street lights levy.