It’s almost 2pm and the usual violation of traffic regulations by drivers, pedestrians carelessly crossing the road, hawkers displaying their wares seeking potential buyers, street vendors taking over pedestrian walk ways, screeching of cars, commercial motorbike riders honking and taking over pavements, among other activities can be seen and heard at Madina Zongo junction. The mixture of all these activities can simply be described as chaotic.
In the middle of the chaos, an accident occurs right at the zebra crossing, about 100 meters away from the newly constructed footbridge from the direction of Madina Firestone. A truck had run into a private car, smashing it almost beyond recognition. Fortunately there was no serious injury.
According to the drivers in the locality who witnessed the incident, this accident is just one of the few they witness every day. They blame the frequent accidents at that particular spot to the temporary zebra crossing marked there to avoid pedestrian knockdowns.
“One thing is that this place is zebra crossing, and the Madina trotro drivers come to stand on the zebra crossing, then their mates will alight and be pulling passengers to cross the road, and be loading them. That is where they stand to do loading. This accident happened because of the loading. Because he wanted to pick people, he didn’t stop behind him, and he just applied at once break, then another car hit it. For instance last week, six cars crashed here,” Wofa Yaw one of the drivers said.
“They have finished the bridge, yet people still cross the road. They have to enforce compliance so that anyone who crosses the road should be arrested,” another taxi driver, Ernest said.
Ernest claims the police are not doing enough to ensure that pedestrians do the right thing, so they should bring in soldiers to ensure pedestrians use the footbridge.
“As for the Madina police, they are here because of the trotro drivers, to take one one cedi from them, but not to ensure that pedestrians use the footbridge. If they ensure compliance like the police at Adenta is doing, I am sure most of the accidents here will not happen. There are Military men in this country, they should deploy some of them here, so that if anyone crosses the road, they will give him or her double slaps, if that goes on for a month, this attitude will stop because people are lazy,” he said
Another driver speaking to ghanabusinessnews.com, said those who use the bridge are less than those who cross the road.
“Three days ago, a car hit a ‘kayayo’ and she has been hospitalized at 37 right right now. The law says that if you knock anyone in a zebra crossing, the driver is the offender, but now the footbridge has been opened, so why are people not using it and rather cross the road because accident happens every day here. Since they finished this footbridge, we cannot count the number of accidents that have happened, yet people still prefer to cross the road. This zebra crossing has caused countless accidents since it was brought here about three months ago. Sometimes, the green light will be on but people will still cross. We have a lot of work to do,” he lamented.
But the Madina Police say, they cannot enforce compliance now since the footbridge is not fully completed.
The Motor Traffic Transport Department (MTTD) Commander, Madina Division, Superintendent Paul Wesley Baah told ghanabusinessnews.com that they have measures in place to ensure that people obey the laws, but that will only be enforced when the footbridge is fully completed.
He said, some of the footbridges have been completed, especially those around Adenta, so the Police there ensure people use it.
“About a month ago, they arrested some people who were crossing the road instead of using the footbridges. So if the footbridge is completed and you want to still put people in danger by walking across the road where the law does not permit you to do that, then we will arrest you and send you to court. We are not arresting them now because we want the project to be fully completed before we start enforcing,” he said.
Supt. Baah said, knockdowns have been reduced considerably after some temporary measures were put in place, a claim the drivers we spoke to disagreed. “We used to have a lot of knockdowns and accidents but since they started the footbridges and the zebra crossing, for a very long time we haven’t had any knockdown.”
The motor riders at the Madina Zongo junction also expressed frustration about the behaviour of pedestrians at that place. One of them, Aziz who spoke to ghanabusinessnews.com said: “This is causing a lot of accidents here. When people are crossing the road and we advise them, they will tell you the footbridge is too long, so we are always having issues with people here. They sometimes insult us when we try to tell them to use the footbridge. Out of anger, we sometimes tell them that if they cross the road and they are knocked down, we won’t mind them because we see incidents like that all the time. Just this Sunday, a car knocked down a small girl here and she died, you see. So they have to stop this behaviour,” he said.
It is true that we complained we needed a footbridge, but we didn’t say we need a jogging or exercise bridge.
For about an hour, we had to observe the number of people who cross the road, as against those who use the footbridge. And our observation, hundreds of people used to cross the road within that short time, while just a few people used the footbridge.
As to why people will risk their lives to cross the road, it is simple. Convenience. One lady who interrupted our interview with the motor riders said, “the footbridge is too long, old folks cannot use this bridge; someone who is sick cannot use this footbridge. By the time you finish using this bridge, you are so exhausted. As for the road, there are traffic lights so we simply wait and when it’s red, we just cross it. They should have built the footbridge short for us, which will be more convenient. It is true that we complained we needed a footbridge, but we didn’t say we need a jogging or exercise bridge.”
“Because they haven’t opened the stairs yet, unless you go round to use the slop which is far, that is why I prefer to cross the road. I understand my life is more important, but I am doing this for convenience sake. I know if they get the police here we will obey because when they opened it for public use, the police were here for three days and people were using it, but now that they have left, we are also doing what we like,” one of the people we spotted crossing the road said.
Another person also said: “It is just for convenience. You would go all the way to the other side before you can cross. Within two minutes I can cross rather than going all the way, but it is serving a good purpose though, but because I want to be a little faster that is why I choose to cross the road.”
The footbridge which is over 95 per cent completed was opened for use about three weeks ago. It has been constructed about 80 meters from the intersection at Zongo junction traffic light. The slope connected to the bridge to access is a little over 100 meters, it has forty stairs each at the exit and entry points, and it is five meters tall from the ground, and the main bridge is also a little over 100 metres.
The contractor of the project, High Brains Limited, says work left on the bridge is the spraying of the guard rails, and some few touches.
The supervisor of the project, Daniel Wiafe explained that, the length of the slopes and stairs have to be constructed this way because of the height of the bridge, if not the slope will be too sharp which will also be problematic.
Mr. Wiafe told ghanabusinessnews.com: “Because of the length of the bridge, if you want a gentle sloping ramp to connect the bridge, it would have to go far. Look at the height of the bridge, considering this height, if you want to construct a gentle sloping ramp that will be easy for everybody to access to this kind of bridge that is five meters high, it will definitely have to go far. If we are supposed to construct a short distance ramp that means it’s going to be sharp and when it’s sharp, it will make accessing it difficult.”
Even though he was not sure of the exact day the work will be completed, Mr. Wiafe said it will be very soon because they are only doing some additional works which will not take much time.
Because of the length of the bridge, if you want a gentle sloping ramp to connect the bridge, it would have to go far.
“I cannot tell exactly when, but it will be very soon because these are just additional works. It wasn’t originally part of what we were supposed to do. The designs came in later on,” he said.
For those who use the bridge, they value their lives and appreciate automatic the exercise the bridge has offered.
One lady we spoke to said, “The reason i use the bridge is because when you cross the road and you are knocked down, you are gone and no one cares. No police will have issue with the driver because the footbridge is there for us to use to cross the road.”
“It’s safer to use the bridge even though it looks like a long distance. By crossing the road you can be easily hit by a car. Actually I was waiting for someone and I thought this place is a much better to stand while I wait for the person. You can’t get both safety and comfort at the same time, you have to trade one for one, so if you want safety take this one, but if you are in a hurray and you don’t care about your safety you can take the road and maybe get hit by a car. For me I choose safety so I prefer to use this bridge,” a pedestrian, Saddiq, told ghanabusinessnews.com, as we caught up with him on the bridge.
By: Asabea Akonor
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