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Faulty traffic lights: The bane of Accra’s road users

Commuting in Accra has become a challenge and a daily fight for survival for most city dwellers due to constant gridlock and street accidents.

A 30-minute journey from home to work mostly morphs into a two-hour stressful adventure for most commuters.

For some motorists and pedestrians, using the streets of Accra has become a death trap.

The road traffic chaos is attributable to the numerous malfunctioning traffic lights, particularly at the intersections.

Traffic lights on the roads are to regulate vehicle movement and make pedestrian crossings easier.

According to research conducted by the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), approximately half of all traffic lights in the Greater Accra Region are faulty.

According to the authority, the problem only increases the vulnerability of road users, especially pedestrians, to road traffic crashes and their associated injuries and deaths.

traffic lights

This also poses a major threat to officers of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, who are deployed to direct traffic flow.

A random check by The Ghana Report at locations such as the UPSA Junction, Alisa Hotel, Paloma Hotel, Awoshie Baah Yard, Anyaa Last Stop, Labadi Beach Hotel, and the Kanda Highway revealed that the traffic lights are either malfunctioning or completely damaged.

This often leads to heavy vehicular traffic and accidents on these roads, especially when there is no police to direct traffic.

State of affairs

At the UPSA Junction, adjacent to the University of Ghana Business School, the traffic lights have been out of service for months, putting the lives of road users and MTTD police officers at risk.

One driver, who only identified himself as Mr Tetteh, told The Ghana Report he fears for his life anytime he commutes the Madina-Accra Central route where most traffic lights have been down for some time.

Mr Tetteh recounted a near-collision incident in which another driver was almost crushed.

“I was in a hurry to get home to my family after work last week when another car almost ended my life. The thought of it still makes me uneasy. The other driver was coming from UPSA at top speed without ensuring the road was clear.

“I was also trying to cross the intersection just like the other drivers on my route. The next thing I realised, his car had scratched my passenger side. That could have ended badly, but I thank God nothing happened. But that would not have happened if the traffic light was working or a police officer was here,” he lamented.

A similar situation was found at Awoshie Baah Yard as residents blocked the Awoshie-Ablekuma highway in the early hours of Monday, August 7, following a series of fatal vehicular knockdown accidents on the stretch due to faulty traffic lights.

traffic lights

The protest sequenced a litany in the past three years as the situation has persisted for years.

The locals claim there are some days when the stretch records many accidents. For instance, on January 10, 2023, three pedestrians were knocked down and killed at Awoshie.

Other road users at the various stops who spoke to The Ghana Report shared similar stories. They expressed frustration over the situation as all calls for a solution have gone unheeded.

“It is very frustrating and very dangerous to cross this road. I sometimes have to wait for a long time before I can cross with my children to school.

“We want our leaders to do something about it. We are pleading,” a pedestrian at the Paloma traffic light said.

What causes the traffic lights to malfunction?

In July 2023, the Road Safety Engineer of the Department of Urban Roads, Pat Onny, identified vandalisation of controllers, cable theft, and the throwing of refuse into controllers as some of the challenges affecting the functions of traffic lights.

However, she complained about the high cost involved in repairing traffic lights.

Where certain components were missing, Madam Onny said repairs required more than the initial installation cost.

On the way forward, she said the department is making efforts to secure the controllers and other components with burglar-proof bars and other accessories to prevent theft and vandalisation.

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