Accra Central in sorrowful state – how did we get here?
If there was a day I had recently cried for my beloved country, it was last Monday. I cried for the total neglect of the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, left in a chaotic state and yet ironically located in the midst of it all is the Accra Regional Police Station, a big one at that.
For close to 10 years now, I have not had any cause to go into the Tudu and Okaishie enclave. Last Monday, I had to go in person to sort out issues at my bank branch which is located right there.
I have hated internet banking right from day one even though I have been coaxed into living with it. This day brought me face to face with a hidden curse in Internet banking which leaves one’s scarce finances in the hands of a far-removed, impersonal device to manage for us.
I cursed my bank over and over again that day as I got stuck in the chaos at Okaishie. I could not turn back because I was in the middle of the deep blue sea of Okaishie chaos. Once one got into it, there seemed to be no turning back.
No, Accra Central using Kwame Nkrumah Avenue is a complete mess. From the old Kingsway, past Cocoboard offices down to old UTC, it took me precious 50 minutes. As one sat in nerve-wracking traffic, commuter buses (tro-tro), loaded trucks and taxis literally squeezed private vehicles who wanted to stay careful and cautious of size.
What makes driving in the area even more agitating is how hawkers and other sellers have covered every pavement and sadly part of the road, making it a complete marketplace. Pedestrians and buyers in their numbers have been pushed over, as a result, to walk in front of or very close to moving vehicles. One has to be extra cautious not to scratch or knock someone or goods down.
So how did we get to this mess in Accra Central? The unacceptable behaviour of hawkers and sellers who have conspicuously taken over pavements and well into the streets is happening right under the nose of a Regional police station.
A budding market with active selling of vegetables, dried fish, foodstuffs, secondhand clothing and shoes as one will find in any market is live and active there. Have the police given up on the situation and left us to our fate?
What is of even more concern is the volume of litter that has accumulated on the sides of the road with pedestrians and vehicles passing over them. So all these sellers
descend on the city centre and virtually live there for eight to ten hours every day and leave their litter behind? Do they pay daily rates to the Assembly, I wondered.
Places of convenience
And where are the public places of convenience for all the manner of people who are there, those who have pitched their open markets and those who come in to shop?
One shudder to think how that area will look like in the period leading up to Christmas and the new year. That is the period when many more window shoppers and active buyers descend on the area and so sellers rush in there to find spaces to occupy.
Accra Central needs to be saved from the mess that is going on there. A lot of discipline is wanted and needed. Not until then, my experience this week has taught me a great lesson and sworn never to set foot in the Central Business District even if it means changing banks since that is the only reason that would drag me there.
Okaishie and adjacent areas in Accra Central house prominent businesses and commercial properties. They all must be paying property rates even though one is not sure if the sellers perching in front of commercial buildings and on the streets and pavements are paying rates to the Assembly.
Can the Assembly devote a proportion of some such revenues to clean and tidy up Accra Central as a matter of concern? Can they restructure the area and give grace and beauty to those offices including the busy Regional police station?
One key worry is how in an emergency situation an ambulance or a fire tender could make its way through to administer emergency services. Has the Assembly ever thought about that with the magnitude of human and vehicular activities in Accra Central?
We cannot just throw our hands up in the air and give up on Kwame Nkrumah Avenue and around the Okaishie enclave and allow lawlessness at its highest to take over. Pavements and streets in the area must be saved and kept as such.
Is anyone listening?