Dark streets: Safety swallowed up in the night

Street lighting, which is to provide illumination in the night, is increasingly becoming a decorative facility in many parts of the country.

While some streetlights have remained non-functional for a long period of time, others come on and immediately go off, posing a threat to the safety of drivers, riders, pedestrians and other people.

Apart from Sunyani, the Bono Regional capital, which has a good number of streets lit in the night, many other regional capitals have poles bearing the lights lined up to beautify the streets during the day but of no worth in the night.

Accra and Kumasi, the two major cities, are not left out. In Accra, while some ceremonial streets bright up in the night, many others are nothing to write home about.

In Kumasi, the streets are mostly dark at night, despite a few solar-powered lights dotting some streets, many of which are dim.

In 2020, the Ministry of Energy announced the commencement of the installation and replacement of some 14,287 energy-efficient streetlights in Accra, which announcement gave a lot of hope to the citizenry.

Observation

The Daily Graphic devoted a couple of days this month to observe the situation across the regional capitals and other towns, and what came out was a situation of virtual dark streets. 

Some metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) admitted that the situation was as a result of malfunctioning streetlights and gave assurances that the problem would be fixed.

Sunyani exception

From Sunyani, Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah & Biiya Mukusah Ali report that the about seven-kilometre street stretching from the Sunyani Senior High School through the Cocoa House Roundabout to the Fiapre Roundabout is a beautiful sight to behold when the streetlights are switched on in the night.

Added to this beautiful spectacle are the blue and white painted poles, each of which holds two lights.

Besides this principal street, other streets in the suburbs, such as New Town, Area One, Area Two, Area Three and Area Four, have streetlights.

The tremendous visibility improvement in the night in the capital and its adjoining communities of late had been attributed to the World Bank-funded Ghana Secondary Cities Support Programme (GSCSP) streetlights project.

The principal streets and street corners of communities such as Abesim, Fiapre, Odumasi, Penkwasi, among others, are bright in the night after the installation of the streetlights.

However, in places such as Asufufu, the light poles broke down after their installation, thereby plunging the areas into darkness during the night.

Streets in communities such as New Dormaa, Kotokrom, Yawhima and Baakoniaba have no streetlights at all.

Enhanced security

The Bono Regional Minister, Mrs Justina Owusu-Banahene, who is also the acting Sunyani Municipal Chief Executive, told the Daily Graphic that her administration placed much importance on security.

“Improvement in the lighting system in the capital is not only for beautification but also security and the reduction of road traffic accidents,” she said.

She called on residents to own the projects and report drivers who knocked down light poles, since maintaining such damage drained the assembly financially.

National capital not lit

In spite of being the national capital, Accra is not insulated from the problem of malfunctioning streetlights.

Apart from the ceremonial streets and some major streets, such as the N1 that leads Accra to the Mallam Junction and the N4 stretch up to Legon, where the lights are functional, darkness engulfs almost all the suburban areas.

On the stretch from Accra to Tema, the lights are functional only up to the Black Star Square; once one approaches Osu, one is met with total darkness, which continues through to La, Teshie, Nungua and even Tema, the industrial hub.

The Kaneshie stretch is not left out of the darkness, just as the Circle-Obetsebi Lamptey and the Circle-Korle Bu routes. One needs to have good headlights to manage to drive in the evening to avoid hitting the potholes on those stretches of road.

On roads where the lights are functional, they are dim and do not serve the purpose efficiently, as is seen on the Tema Motorway and on the N4 that leads from Tetteh Quarshie through Adenta to Aburi.

Kumasi dark areas

From Kumasi, Daniel Kenu reports that many of the streets are dark at night, although there are a few solar-powered lights along some streets, most of which are dim.

The connecting streets within areas, such as the Gulden Tulip-Bekwai Roundabout, are dangerous to use in the night because there is no light, while road markings to help one determine the road median are absent.

Darkness on the Atonsu-Asokwa stretch in Kumasi

Darkness on the Atonsu-Asokwa stretch in Kumasi 

Bright spots

The Sofoline-Abuakwa main road and the overhead connecting Prempeh College and Santasi remain the brightest spots. Even there, the light is not as sharp as one would want when driving at night.

There have been a number of road crashes between the Anloga Junction and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) at night.

A number of residents the Daily Graphic spoke to said due to the lack of street lights, they could not travel at dawn for fear of running into stationary vehicles.

According to the Head of Electricals at the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), Mr Eric Botah, an electrical company, Prefos, had been tasked to assess the situation and submit a quotation to the assembly for consideration.

The assessment is to identify all streets without lighting and make a full report, which is to be worked on by the Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Osei Assibey Antwi, for funds to be released for work to commence.

Field day for robbers in Bolga

From Bolgatanga, Vincent Amenuveve reports that along the Ghana Library and the Lessken roads, the streetlights have not been working for some time now.

Some suspected robbers have taken advantage of that to rob some people of their money, motorbikes, mobile phones and other valuables along the roads.

A hairdresser who is a victim of the robbery, Miss Vida Ayandor, told the Daily Graphic that her shop, located opposite the Bolgatanga Sports Stadium on the Lessken road, was broken into by thieves in the night, who made away with her electrical cables and other items, due to the darkness in the area.

No power in Tema

Benjamin Xornam Glover writes from Tema that a night drive along the Hospital Road through the Baba Yara and the Krakue roads, as well as the Rotary Avenue, revealed that although new streetlight poles and bulbs had been installed, they were yet to be powered. 

The situation on the Harbour Road from Community One through to the Motorway Interchange on the Tema-Akosombo Highway was the same, as street poles were damaged, or where they existed, the bulbs were faulty and out of use.

Also, in the Tema West municipality, it was observed that newly installed lights on the Community Three-Sakumono Beach road financed by Meridian Port Services in 2019 had become malfunctional.

The absence of streetlights and the activities of articulated truck drivers on that stretch, especially at night, pose a great danger to drivers and pedestrians.

A taxi driver who works within Tema, Mr Martin Osei, said driving at night in the metropolis had become a difficult task, since the roads were not illuminated.

The Daily Graphic was informed that the Ministry of Energy had awarded contract and work was ongoing on the Hospital Road, with a contractor laying new cables to power newly installed streetlights.

The Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE) for Tema, Mr Felix Mensa Nii Anang-La, bemoaned the constant stealing of underground cables and other sensitive components of the streetlight installations and urged residents to report any such acts to the police and the assembly.

That notwithstanding, he said, the assembly had distributed street bulbs to assembly members which had been installed in open spaces and vantage points in the communities.

Theft and crashes in twin-city

From the twin city of Sekondi-Takoradi, Augustina Dzodzegbe reports that in some areas, the poles have fallen off as a result of accidents.

Also, the activities of some road contractors have damaged the wires connecting some streetlights to the grid or the bulbs are not functioning.

Generally, however, many of the street bulbs in the metropolis are functioning.

A student of the Takoradi Technical University, Mr Enoch Dey, said although most students wished to stay longer on campus to have their private studies or group discussions, the darkness gave them no choice but to return to their hostels at night.

Malfunctioning streetlights at the Takoradi Technical University- Pipeano Boulevard road

Malfunctioning streetlights at the Takoradi Technical University- Pipeano Boulevard road

Reaction

The Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE) for Sekondi-Takoradi, Mr Abdul Mumin-Issah, assured residents of the Twin-City of improved street lighting as part of security measures in the city.

Speaking at a meeting of the assembly, he said it had made an official application to the Ministry of Energy for about 8,000 bulbs to improve the situation, and the ministry had promised to deliver the bulbs

 He acknowledged that there was the need for light along some streets, especially the Essipon Road ,“but the cost is beyond the ability of the assembly. We have, therefore, appealed to the central government for support”.

He said most of the inner communities had their lights working.

The MCE gave an assurance that the assembly was doing its best to resolve the poor illumination situation, especially given the threats of robbery in the metropolis.

Koforidua, more darkness

George Folley & Cynthia Addi-Chanagea report of a worrying and dangerous situation on the entire Koforidua-Akuapem route as drivers who travel to Accra on it are engulfed in total darkness and have to depend on their headlamps for illumination.

It makes driving on that stretch in the evening or night very difficult, given its hilly, narrow and meandering nature, and is a hub for robbers who sometimes mount blockades and attack unsuspecting travellers.

As is the case with most regional capitals,  the central business district of Koforidua has light at only few places, while other areas are in total darkness.

The New Juaben SHS road leading to Sunflower Link, the Adweso-Koforidua Technical University highway, the Kenkey Factory route, the Nsukwao road, as well as the Sarkodie Junction, are all in a similar situation of no streetlights.

However, some intersections at Mile 50, the Effiduase Junction, the KTU Junction, among others, have their lights working, just like areas such as Old Estate and some areas within the municipality.

The assembly blamed the situation on the recklessness of drivers, some of whom, in the night, run into the poles carrying the lights, destroying them in the process and thereby damaging the entire network of streetlights.

Source: Graphic