At peak hours, vehicles from Accra’s commercial centre and bound for East Legon, Adjiiringanor, Ashale Botwe, some parts of Madina, Adenta and a host of other busy suburbs turn to the right at Shiashi.
Only two cars can drive side-by-side on this turn. But that’s not all the problem. This turn is at the foot of the footbridge on the Shiashi-Legon road. Commuters who descend the footbridge have to compete with vehicular traffic at this same turn, often creating congestion at the curve.
As if all of these are not enough, commercial drivers have turned this sharp turn into a lorry station, causing a nuisance to motorists and pedestrians.
They took over this street after they were relocated from an old lorry station nearby to a temporary station between the Calvary Baptist Church and the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange. But some have found that inconvenient and have instead relocated onto the main road, lining up at Shiashie Junction to ‘load’ their vehicles.
Some commuters also use the place as a waiting area to request online transportation services such as Uber, Yango and Bolt, further compounding the situation.
Turning a portion of the road into a lorry station is a violation of the law. Although the police and municipal authorities are aware of the illegal operations of the commercial drivers, they have failed to enforce the law.
Motorists may have to endure the nuisance for a long time because while the police have been accused of complicity by permitting the illegality—an allegation they (police) refute—the municipal authorities have been dragged to court over the ownership of the land on which the old lorry station earmarked for a facelift, is sited.
The Vice-Chairman of the Shiashie Lorry Station Drivers Union, Mohammed Amisu, alleged that the Airport Police had permitted them (drivers) to bring two vehicles at a time from the temporary lorry terminal to the roadside to ‘load’ passengers.
But the Airport Police Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD) has refuted the allegation and indicated its intention to arrest and prosecute any driver who offends the law.
The Airport Divisional Commander of the MTTD, Supt. John Atanga, admitted that the activities of the drivers at Shiashie Junction are a nuisance, a threat to pedestrian safety, and an outright violation of the road traffic law.
Road Traffic Act
Section 19 of the Road Traffic Act, 2004 (Act 683) states: “A person who parks a motor vehicle wholly or partly, on the verge or shoulder of a road, on any land situated between two carriageways and which is not a footway, on a footway, on a pedestrian crossing, or on a place reserved for the physically challenged, commits an offence.”
The punishment for this offence is “a summary conviction to a fine not exceeding 250 penalty units (Ghc3000, given that one penalty unit is Ghc12) or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or to both.”
But the police and municipal authorities have failed to enforce the law, although they are aware of the offence committed by the commercial drivers.
“We have gone there severally to warn them to stop loading passengers from there, but they keep disobeying our orders,” the Airport Divisional Commander of the MTTD, Supt. John Atanga, said in an interview.
The Director-General of the MTTD, Supt. Dr. Samuel Sasu-Mensah and the Commanding Officer of the Accra Region MTTD, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Martin Ayiih, visited the spot on Thursday, February 3, 2022, to warn the drivers to stop using the road as a lorry station.
But why are commercial drivers still using the Shiashie Junction as a lorry station after the visit of, and warning by, these high-rank police officers?
“My brother, the moment you leave there, they come back so the campaign continues and the battle is on and it remains arrest and court because that is the only language they understand,” Supt. Atanga provided an answer.
Shiashie, the transit point
For many commuters who use the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange to access East Legon, Bawaleshie, UPSA, Madina and beyond, Shiashie Junction is a daily nightmare to encounter, as traffic builds up every day, especially in the morning and evening rush hours, on that portion of the road.
The old lorry station has been barricaded by the Ayawaso West Municipal Assembly to allow for the construction of a new lorry terminal, necessitating the relocation of the commercial drivers to a temporary lorry station nearby.
However, even after the relocation, commuters gather on the shoulder of the road leading into East Legon to join commercial vehicles to their various destinations, causing a traffic jam in the area.
Sylvester Mensah, a resident of East Legon said the traffic situation, especially in the morning, is unbearable, adding, “Until we have the drivers completely driven away from that junction, the traffic situation over there will continue to remain.”
New lorry terminal
The Ayawaso West Municipal Assembly is yet to start construction work to modernise the old lorry station into a model lorry station and market.
According to the Municipal Works Engineer, Nathan Narh Caesar, a temporal location which is near the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange has been prepared and handed over to the drivers for use as lorry station.
He said the delay in the reconstruction of the old lorry station had been necessitated by a court action filed by a private developer claiming ownership of the land.
Mr. Caesar, however, declined to give further details on the court case, indicating that the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) is the best person to do so.
Traffic continues to build up as drivers remain parked on the pavement to pick passengers
Resistance from drivers
Mohammed Amisu, of the drivers’ union of the area, said before they were ejected from the old lorry station, they were briefed by officials of the municipal assembly on the construction of the new lorry terminal.
He, however, noted that there were some recalcitrant drivers who refused to move to the temporary lorry station because they were not satisfied with their ejection to make way for the construction of a new terminal.
Mr. Amisu said after the drivers had failed to comply with several ejection notices, there was a nasty clash between some drivers and personnel from the Accra Regional Police Command late last year when the Assembly decided to eject them to make way for the commencement of the project.
According to him, the recalcitrant drivers were members of Vim Protoa Transport Union, who were subsequently banned by the Ayawaso West Municipal Security Council (MUSEC) from operating at the lorry terminal.
Another challenge is that some commuters find the distance to the temporary station too long for them to board “trotro” to their various destinations.
The writer of this report, Joseph K. Kpormegbey, is a fellow of the Next Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship at the Media Foundation for West Africa.