Chaos in the City: How A.M.A Promotes Lawlessness in Accra

FEATURE: By Christian Kofi Dormedzui | Email(editor):

Early morning in Accra( Credit: Operation Groundswell)

Ghana is one of the fastest growing economies in the sub Saharan Africa. Accra, its capital with rapidly increasing population of 4 million people with limited space, resources and infrastructure to deal with  the swelling numbers and waste, campaigns and organizations are calling for more education, waste reduction, and innovative recycling programs across the country. In fact, countries have adopted measures like banning plastic bags and non-biodegradable plastics.

People will tell you with great pride how clean their city is. Accra is in the league of its own. A city with many faces. A city with one extravagant bourgeoisie condominium on the left, and a dirty stinky slam on the right.  A once upon a time colourful and a vibrant city is on the brink of dying of suffocation as it cannot enforce its own bye laws and contain its own waste.

Chaotic vehicular and human traffic in Accra

Accra has become very predictable. The predictability creates an impression. It certainly makes things more interesting and memorable. It is interesting to walk the streets where you know what awaits you around the corner.

Indeed, a closer look at the famous city of Accra and its streets, life and public space, chaotic becomes one of the most striking words to describe them. Accra, the chaotic city.

A disorderly movement of people in traffic, Kaneshie-Accra

The chaotic city, which is rich with noises, shouts, distractive things and disorder on every day, is well a source good of irritation and stress. You are greeted with early morning noises blasting from the megaphones in most major bus terminals shouting “Accra-Accra, Kasoa, Taifa-Taifa, American House-Bawaleshie, Pokuase-Olubu etc.”. In Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Tema Station, Tudu, Achimota, Abeka-Lapaz, 37, Nungua etc., the noise pollutions make it almost impossible to make a clear telephone conversation without having to strain the ear. Accra’s problems is a never ending story. The advent of street preachers all day long tangled with medicine and pen-drive vendors, all competing with their loud public address systems at every corner, have compounded its woes. Every beat can be felt through the pores of the skin. It’s just indispensable to make up the mind and get used to it.

The city is always shouting, not solely in terms of sound, but also in sense of people and sometimes it’s better to roar than to mumble. You must almost become very aggressive to avoid street hawkers who would want to force their merchandises on you at every major street

Accra,37 Millitary Road Bus Stop taken over by Taxi drivers as mini station

After becoming president three years ago, President Akufo-Addo created Ghana’s first ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources as part of a pledge to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa. This piece of polemic will not attempt to screen this mantra as to whether the president has lived to his promise or not. That’s for another day.

Heap of garbage left on the street of Accra

The current state of Accra, which is plagued with periodic flooding is also bedevilled with severe lawlessness. The lawlessness in Accra has become so entrenched that, the very people whom the wellbeing of the city has been entrusted, are very complicit in cases involving the violations of the city’s motor traffic and sanitation bye laws.

For example, at 37 and other parts, taxi drivers have hijacked official bus-stops, forcing commercial trotro vehicles to stop and pick passengers in the middle of the road. In Achimota, the GPRTU operating at the new bus terminal have blocked the usage of the bus-top at the old station. Fines as much as GHC 500 ($90) are slapped on recalcitrant drivers in the full glare of the city guards and the police on the spot.

At, Tetteh Quarshie Round About, vehicles who had loaded from Madina, Lapaz, Kasoa etc. and headed to Ashaiman, Tema, Dawenya etc. cannot make a stop at the bus-stop on the overpass because, the operators of the mini terminal at the southern part of the Accra Mall have blocked the bus stop. They hire macho men who blasts tyres of vehicles who dare make a stop. These macho men brag and tout the support from the police and the city’s authority (Accra Metropolitan Assembly).

These activities have led to needless vehicular traffic and movements resulting in the loss of productivity and making the dream of Accra being the leanest African capital a farcical political rhetoric.



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