Many traffic lights in Accra are still malfunctioning, in spite of plans made earlier to fix all malfunctioning lights by the end of last month.
At the more than 20 road intersections the Daily Graphic surveyed in Accra, there were different forms of challenges with the traffic lights — while some were totally off, there were others that were working partially, while the rest were not functioning at all.
Apart from those visibly broken down, some of the lights had power in them but were malfunctioning, as all three signs (colours) came on at the same time and did not blink.
Some pelican crossings for pedestrians also showed both red and green lights at the same time, exposing pedestrians to road accidents and knock downs.
Traffic lights are very important because the country does not have many flyovers and interchanges and motorists and pedestrians alike rely on systems of traffic lights to manage movement on city roads.
The Daily Graphic editions of February 21, 2018 and October 5, 2018 published stories drawing attention to the dire state of traffic lights in Accra and its suburbs.
Some broken lights hang loosely on the wires that supply power to them, meaning that they can easily fall off and injure pedestrians.
This is particularly the case of traffic lights at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, where more than 20 standard traffic light units (the bar of three lights) are either broken down or malfunctioning.
At some places, the bulbs are off and fallen out of the sockets because of neglect, as is the case of lights at the Madina Zongo Junction intersection.
At the busy central business district (CBD) of Accra, all the traffic lights at the intersection near the Central Police Station Barracks cannot be seen on their poles.
According to some traders at the vicinity, the lights there had not been working for almost two years, putting pressure on traffic policemen who had to be present throughout the day.
Records at the Department of Urban Roads (DUR) indicate that some of the abandoned traffic lights are as old as 20 years and need replacement.
The DUR said the problems with the traffic lights varied from temporary challenges such as power trips/surges and outages to endemic ones such as the stealing of power conductor cables and the dumping of refuse into the controllers.
Checks by the Daily Graphic at various traffic light spots last week indicated that all the traffic lights at the Graphic Road-Adabraka Official Town intersection, near the Graphic Communications Group Limited, as well as another at the Graphic Press House, near Accra Brewery, and the Rawlings Park and CMB were not functioning.
Similarly, those at the environs of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange — in front of the Orion Cinema, the GCB Bank near Vienna City and the Ridge Taxi Rank — the Neoplan Station, the roundabout close to New Times Corporation, the Achimota New Station Shell and the Achimota Forest were all not functioning.
The situation was the same on the Kanda Highway towards the roundabout near the Kanda Flats, at Kanda 441, the Kanda Total Bus Stop heading towards GBC and the Adenta SDA intersection.
At some of the intersections, only the traffic lights on the main road were working, while those on the adjoining routes were off, posing a threat to motorists who sometimes got confused about sudden acceleration from the other side when they attempted to use another flow of traffic.
These include those at the Madina Zongo Junction, where almost all the traffic lights are off and falling apart; the Ritz Junction, Okponglo, Kwashieman Junction, 37 Roundabout, Opeibea House, Airport First, Honda Place and Toyota Ghana on the Graphic Road, the International Central Gospel Church Christ Temple at Abossey Okai and Kaneshie First Light.
Others are the Ghana Standards Authority intersection, Achimota New Station, Achimota Police Station, University of Professional Studies, Accra/University of Ghana Business School Junction and the Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School (Presec) entrance.
After the October publication in the Daily Graphic, a number of the traffic lights are functioning. These include those in front of GLICO, the Vodafone Office at Alajo, the Abeka Junction, the Ghana Cocoa Board head office and the Ecobank branch near the Adabraka Market on the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue.
When the Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Kwesi Amoako-Atta, took his turn at the meet-the-press series on January 22, this year, he promised that all malfunctioning traffic lights in the capital would be working by June this year.
He explained that a $35-million traffic management centre which was under construction at the DUR would help address the problem.
The project sought to coordinate all the traffic signals along the major routes in the capital and manage traffic remotely from the centre.
He challenged the media to go back to ask questions about the traffic lights and the projects if, by June, the centre was not opened and the traffic lights up and running.
But five months after the announcement, only a few traffic lights have been fixed.
Three calls and a text message sent to Mr Amoako-Atta were not answered.
When the Daily Graphic contacted the Head of Engineering at the Road Safety Unit at the DUR, Ms Patricia Onny, she directed the reporter to the Ministry of Roads and Highways for its response to the state of traffic lights in the city.
However, in February last year, the DUR Engineer in charge of Development and Traffic, Nana Kwame-Fori Obuobi, said in the case of the traffic lights at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, a sub-contractor who installed the gadgets during the construction of the interchange had been contracted to remedy the situation.
In the case of the Graphic Road traffic lights, he said there was a temporary power problem that would be fixed before the end of March 2018.
He said a major problem for Accra had been people vandalising the controllers and stealing voltaic stabilisers and cables to sell, while some residents also poured refuse into some of the controllers.
Although policemen from the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) and the community police have been deployed on some of the routes, they tend to be active only during the rush hours.
The Accra Central MTTD Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr Anderson Fosu-Ackah, told the Daily Graphic that the police had always been on the road, whether or not traffic lights were working, because of the volume of vehicles.
He, however, said functioning lights were necessary on the roads, particularly in the night, to control the gridlock when MTTD officials closed.
He said the MTTD currently deployed its officers on trunk roads in the city and not minor ones because traffic flow converged on the main highways such as the George Walker Bush Highway (N1), the Achimota-Ofankor road, the Accra-Legon-Madina (N4) road and the Tema-Accra Beach road.
“We are appealing for the traffic lights to be fixed because the MTTD being a human institution, we won’t always be on the roads,” he said.
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