Congresspeople, the wicked, seem determined that anyone who wishes to do the tiniest of public good will suffer for it in this motherland. And so was my plight, one October weekend. I had decided to partake in an alumni programme in support of the college that partly, but in a significant way, made me. I couldn’t have imagined the deepness of the consequential ‘Wopɛ no yie a wobrɛ’ (suffering to do good).
I had heard about traffic logjam on the Accra-Cape Coast (Oguaa) road. But I never imagined it to be a nightmare. To ensure I’d escape whatever delays on a Cape Coast trip, I left home at 0500 hours GMT hoping to arrive at Cape Coast by 0800 hours GMT for a programme that was to begin at 1000 hours GMT. By 0600 GMT, we were at the Kasoa side of the dreaded toll booth queue.
Surprisingly, as soon as we crossed the toll booth, the traffic began slowing more. I thought it was some obstacle, such as broken down vehicle; but that was not it. It was too many vehicles heading the Cape Coast way. At the bridge at the Kasoa town intersection, the slowness eased for about five minutes only to rejoin another jam.
In great disappointment, I asked myself how come as a motherland all we have to show for spending $270 million to free traffic is a five-minute break from gridlock!!No! No man who spends the motherland’s money so recklessly should shamelessly ask to be allowed charge over it again after he has been discharged from any continuance of that profligacy.
Continuing the journey, we sought relief after Buduburam. It didn’t happen. Then we thought maybe after Akoti (Feteh Junction). There too, it didn’t happen. There was a short break after Potsin junction; but only briefly as we passed Mpota to join the Winneba Junction slowdown. Between that point and Ankamu (Apam Junction) was as fast as in slowness.
As we passed Assin, we thought it was freedom to speed up a bit. Not long after, though, we encountered the Mankessim version of traffic jam. The traffic actually ground to a complete halt for about fifteen good minutes. Then as slowly as could be imagined, we moved to eventually cross Mankessim. There was no traffic hurrying even through Kromantse, Abandze and Anomabu, Eguase till another real go-slow at Yamoransa Junction. We were not done yet with slowed traffic because we still had to pass Bob Cole’s (for the older folks) Mowire Nkwanta.
As we approached Aggrey Memorial Zion Senior High School, I turned to my granddaughter to activate the google map on her phone for guidance to Pempamsie Hotel, our destination. So, in globalisation, we navigated our way past Ghana National College turning left to find the Mfantsipim School after which we did a u-turn to immediately reach Pempansie by a right turn.
When we arrived at Pempamsie Hotel, the venue for the event, I checked the clock on the phone. It read 1018 GMT; virtually five and a third hours for a two-hour journey. This is lunacy, I told myself.
The tiny little good of time spent to help fundraise to support my former teachers college cost me over nine and a half hours of extreme anxiety and stress out of a 24 hour day. That is counting the four and half hours (left Cape Coast 1400 GMT and arrived at Adenta 1800 GMT) spent during the return Cape Coast-Accra journey together with the five and a third hours spent on Accra-Cape Coast.
Throughout the ordeal of the travel, I kept thinking about a well-maintained road from Adeiso through Bodwjiase, Mankrong Junction, Agona Swedru, the Bobikumas and Ajumako to Mankessim. From Adenta, I would have chosen that route going to Cape Coast. Or, on the return journey when I realised more gridlock at Akoti Junction, I would have turned left to join it.
I don’t know how many kilometres that would measure. But based on road man Kwasi Amoako-Atta’s estimation of a kilometre of good road costing GH¢1.5 million, the $270 million (not wise and prudent spending) spent on the Kasoa overpass bridge could have completed some 900 kilometres of asphalted road network. Accra-Kumasi is 266 kilometres long. You can imagine building over three times that in the area to open up Kasoa! Sad fact is, for years to come, constructing more and better roads will be delayed as whatever money we make will be used to repay the $270 million debt.
At some point, I reminisced over a 1999 experience when it took me from 1900 hours GMT to arrive home at Legon at 2300 hours GMT (four hours duration) from the Weija Iron City. It was a jungle of drive of six deep three lanes in each of both directions. We are talking clogged road which keeps getting, and has gotten worse over 22 years. So where is our progress as a motherland?
Somewhere on a straight stretch driving back to Accra, we were forced by the frustration of endless delay to overtake about 12 cars at a stretch. At Buduburam, we again ‘charged,’ shamefully jumped the queue only to quickly sight the policeman checking the illegality. We had to ‘smartly’ find space between two vehicles that generously allowed us to rejoin the long queue. That’s how hard it was to do the right thing in the motherland.
Kufuor’s government had improved Accra-Cape Coast travel by smoothening the surface of the road. But citizens had been manipulated through a congress election vile propaganda to repudiate the improvement with ɛkwanwɔnwe (one does not eat roads). For the next eight years, the congress government’s contribution to improving the road was to borrow and squander $270 million over a 200 metre overpass Kasoa bridge loan and then left the rest of the road to its fate. Thinking $270 million, I am no, and cannot be, a bridge or road construction expert; but my ignorance is not bliss for me to be folly wise that spending that way is not bonkers.
For the $270 million, ‘In all, a new 33 kilometre Kasoa-Oboum road will be constructed. There will be an interchange constructed at the Kasoa Junction. The project also includes two 12-classroom blocks, 12-unit classroom blocks, one polyclinic with all accessories, 10 mechanised bore-holes, and 20 kilometres of local roads would be constructed around Kasoa area, as well as a walk-over at Iron City.’ Someone, please, show me where everything else is apart from the overpass bridge they call interchange and the ‘walkover at Iron City.’ What pains me is that I missed the mixing fun that followed the formal fund launch for which I had endured all the travel pain.
By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh