The state of our roads has been on my mind for some time now. There is no doubt that there has been a major improvement in the overall road network in Ghana over the years. Yet, after 64 years of Independence, what Ghana can show off for its major highways is a complete disgrace. For instance, the road linking our two major cities, Accra-Kumasi, is nothing more than a single-lane death trap.
A distance of only 250-km, it takes over five hours and, if you are not lucky, it will take your life as well. How much more with the road networks linking deprived communities? Sufficient evidence abounds that the media are awash with complaints about bad roads and the need for the central government or district assemblies to step in to fix, reshape, reconstruct or construct roads.
Undoubtedly, efficient road infrastructure is essential for the economic growth of any country. Reliable and dependable road infrastructure helps to facilitate the free movement of goods and people, creates employment, supports economic growth, enhances access to education and healthcare services, and connects people to families and places of entertainment. This also goes a long way in aiding in the fight against poverty.
In Ghana, road transport is one of the major keys that enhance economic potential. It is estimated that road transport alone accounts for 96 per cent of passenger and freight traffic and about 97 per cent of passenger miles in the country.
That is why sustainable development of our road infrastructure cannot be downplayed. As a result, I believe that placing a lot more premium on developing our road infrastructure will definitely be a step in the right direction.
The country’s roads have seen further deterioration as a result of the heavy rains experienced in the last month and recently.
For example, the pothole-ridden roads in Accra and other parts of the country are increasingly becoming alarming and worrying, which also make the cost of road transport high and very risky.
Successive governments have also faced a significant backlog of aging road infrastructure that needs to be rehabilitated and modernised, both in the urban and rural areas. Fortunately, Ghana has consistently been one of the countries in the top ranks of the African Development Bank’s Africa Infrastructure Development Index (AIDI), attracting funding for roads infrastructure.
That notwithstanding, there is still more road infrastructure deficit that require urgent attention from the government. Efforts should therefore be put in place to save the situation.
Truth is, among the many modes of transport, road transport is the commonest. However, poor road infrastructure hinders road transport and curtails societal development and mobility.
It may interest you to know that rural areas are places for the production of primary goods and services worldwide. And increase in sufficient roads in the rural areas tend to increase access to agricultural inputs and market, communication and technology.
It is for this reason that the government should be able to take the necessary steps to invest more in road infrastructure so that the citizens can gain access to the remotest parts of the country in order to unlock the vast and untapped reservoir of productive potential in those areas.
Roads and development
In terms of development, road transport is a vital element for improving societal welfare because it creates special impulses for economic growth and prosperity. Although the link between roads and human development is not well established, data from low-income countries demonstrate that communities living furthest from good roads experience higher levels of poverty, lower levels of school attendance and worse health outcomes.
This has become one of the reasons there are frequent agitations by some community members for the government to fix their roads.
The problem of bad road networks can be addressed when a routine monitoring and evaluation mechanism are built into the road infrastructure investment policies to ensure that road construction carried out by contractors are properly done.
Furthermore, the government must always follow up on reports to check whether projects being implemented are done properly. This will become feasible when standard assessments are given the number one priority.
The government also needs to train selected teams well to be able to successfully face the challenges of implementing road infrastructural policies.
Our daily activities cannot be done by instrumental roles played by our roads. That is why, it is imperative that adequate investment is made into the road sector with proper monitoring and evaluation. Such measures when fully instituted will ensure that the issue of poor roads and potholes will be a thing of the past.
The author is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ)