General News of Friday, 15 February 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
It has emerged that the original design of the N1 highway has not been fully implemented and that five more interchanges are supposed to be constructed, the consultants for the projects have confirmed.
According to the Managing Director of ICT Bans, Mr Isaac Addai, the original design included the construction of seven interchanges at vantage locations that would make the highway very safe for motorists and pedestrians.
But only two of them were constructed at the Dimples Junction and the Mallam Junction, leaving the remaining five designed for the Awoshie, Kwashieman, Abeka Lapaz, Apenkwa and Dzorwulu traffic light intersections still on the drawing board.
The full design also included the construction of two additional loops at the Apenkwa Interchange, as well as bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes and service lanes on both sides of the 14.1-kilometre, three-lane, high-speed international highway.
Mr Addai told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the project could not have been executed in full due to lack of funds and time.
MCA financial support
In 2006, Ghana secured $547 million from the US Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) to undertake a number of development projects, mostly in the agricultural sector.
However, the government managed to convince officials of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to include the construction of the Motorway Extension from the Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange to the Mallam Junction.
The government had made a strong submission that the construction of the extension was critical for the speedy transportation of agricultural produce from the western corridor to the Tema Port for export, thereby cutting down on total cost of production.
Consequently, the MCC agreed to devote $55 million out of the $547 million allocated to Ghana to reconstruct the road into a three-lane dual carriageway, but some additional facilities increased the cost of construction to $180 million.
Mr Addai said the government now had a responsibility to find money to construct the remaining four interchanges and other facilities under the second phase of the project.
In the interim, he said, it intended to construct four temporary footbridges to facilitate pedestrian crossing and minimise the spate of knock downs on the highway.
He explained that the provision of the four interchanges in the original design was the reason the footbridges on the highway, as currently located, seemed too far apart.
Exactly one year after the pomp that accompanied the inauguration of the N1 Highway, the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) is yet to hand over the magnificent road to the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA).
The reasons, the Daily Graphic learnt, include the need to rectify some constructional defects and provide remedial safety interventions on the highway which has assumed notoriety as a death route in Accra.
Between February 15, 2012 and December 31, 2012, 52 people died and 284 others were injured in accidents on the N1 Highway, according to statistics from the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service.
The number of casualties could be higher when the statistics are updated.
Majority of the casualties were pedestrians, after 112 of them had been knocked down within the period, meaning an average of two pedestrians were knocked down on the highway every week.
The GHA is currently supervising the erection of wire mesh fencing along the inner island of the highway to prevent pedestrians from jumping over it to cross from one side to the other.
An official at the GHA in charge of Safety, Victor Owusu, was not certain as to when the N1 Highway would be officially handed over.
In two months’ time if the contractors were able to rectify all the defects, he guessed.
Liability of Contractors
The contractors on the road have a one-year liability, which expires this month, during which they take responsibility to remedy all constructional defects.
The expiration of that liability will pave the way for the official handing over of the highway and the commencement of the second phase, depending on the availability of funds.
While awaiting the official handing over, the Daily Graphic has observed that many of the street lights, especially from the Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange to the Dimples Interchange, were not functioning.
This is as a result of the stealing of the electrical panels, which is the reason for the erection of the wire mesh fencing along the island of the highway.
An official of MiDA, Dr Bernard Koranteng-Yorke, also told the Daily Graphic that the construction of the remaining five interchanges formed part of Phase Two of the project, which could only begin when the government was ready to finance it, reports Naa Lamiley Bentil.
He said the construction of the seven interchanges would have ensured the optimum use of the highway.
He, however, explained that funding to the MCA from the American government only allowed the construction of two.
The construction of one interchange, according to Dr Koranteng-Yorke, would have cost an additional $10 million to $15 million, which was not available.
He said a report had been sent to the government and it was, therefore, fully aware of the need to have the additional interchanges constructed.
He noted, however, that the challenges facing the road were not triggered by engineering lapses but had to do with the attitude and general indiscipline on the part of some road users.
He explained that decisions were taken on the road considering the future development and enhancement of its facilities, adding, for instance, that at Lapaz, "we anticipated we would have an interchange here and that was why we did not provide any footbridge there. If we had, it would eventually be pulled down and it would be waste of money," he stated.
"All these informed the location of and site for the footbridges," Dr Koranteng-Yorke stated.