Unauthorised settlements and slums along the Accra-Tema Motorway, coupled with the creation of illegal U-turns, have become a source of concern to motorists who ply the 19-kilometre highway.
The situation has led to a disregard for road traffic regulations and the advent of stagnant ‘pools’ and heaps of filth along that stretch of road.
The slums, consisting of kiosks and metal containers, are concentrated in the area from the tollbooth at the Accra end of the motorway to the Community 18 Junction in Tema.
Referred to as “kiosk estates”, the slums have become dens for robbers and other miscreants, some of who sometimes emerge from their shacks to rob owners of vehicles that break down on the road at night of their valuables, including car batteries.
The residents, according to claims by the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA), are also responsible for the darkness on the road because they steal copper wires used to connect power to the streetlights erected on the motorway in 2011.
As a result of the illegal settlements, trotros, taxis and motorbikes often stop haphazardly on the highway to pick and drop passengers at will, despite the fact that vehicles are not supposed to stop on the highway.
And, most of the time, those commercial drivers fail to give signals of either stopping or getting back onto the road, leading to other vehicles crashing into them.
As a result of the lack of waste disposal receptacles and toilet facilities in the slums, the residents dump refuse anyhow and also defecate in the bushes along the road.
Situation in slums
A tour of the slums by the Daily Graphic further revealed that even though settlement there was illegal, the structures enjoyed electricity and water supply.
There were also brisk business activities, such as the sale of alcohol, cigarettes, commodities, foodstuffs and other items.
Some of the slums have video centres, parks for social activities and mini-football pitches.
It was also established that not all the structures were on government land; a few were situated outside the Motorway Reservation on private lands.
At the KICC slum, named after the Kingsway International Christian Church (KICC), a community leader, Felix Adzakpa, claimed that the number of people residing there was more than 10,000.
“If you come here on a Sunday after church, when almost all residents are at home, you will have a fair idea of the number of people who live here. We are more than 10,000,” he said.
He admitted that they did not acquire the land from any authority, saying: “When we came here, the entire area was bushy. It was like a forest.
We cleared the place and erected our structures. Later, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) provided us with electricity and the Ghana Water Company also connected water to this place,” Mr Adzakpa stated.
According to him, some of the dwellers of the slum had lived there for more than 10 years, and that the settlement came up slowly, over a period of 15 years.
He, however, denied that the slums were havens for criminals and said, on the contrary, the residents had been of help to motorists.
Mr Adzakpa said any time a vehicle broke down on the motorway, dwellers of the slums stood guard over the vehicle and its driver until the driver secured the services of mechanics.
And when accidents occurred, he added, the residents provided support for victims, some of whom they sometimes rushed to the hospital.
“The only problem we have here is that people smoke marijuana in the open and that is bad,” he said.
He appealed to the government not to eject them because they did not have alternative dwelling places.
At another slum, known as “Trasacco” due to its proximity to the Trasacco Valley Estates, a community leader, Gideon Mate, said the residents were ready to relocate any time the need arose.
The illegal U-turns on the motorway have been the cause of many accidents on the road.
A drive along the stretch revealed dangerous turns by both private and commercial vehicles.
There are about 40 illegal turns and paths along the entire stretch of the road, with the GHA blocking six of them with concrete boulders.