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Gradually, the skyline in some parts of Accra and a few of the regional capitals is being transformed with the construction of interchanges and flyovers at certain key locations.
In the capital city, for instance, we have the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange, the Mallam Junction Interchange the famous Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, formerly the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, and the Ako Adjei Interchange, while Kasoa and the Graphic Road have flyovers.
Meanwhile, three new major interchanges are at various stages of completion — the Tema Motorway Interchange, the Pokuase Interchange and the recently started Obetsebi-Lamptey Interchange.
Aside from its aesthetics, the primary purpose of an interchange is to reduce conflicts caused by vehicle crossings and minimise conflicting left-turn movements.
Interchanges are almost always used when at least one road is a controlled-access highway (freeway or motorway) or a limited-access divided highway (expressway), although they are sometimes used at junctions between surface streets.
In many jurisdictions, interchanges are one of the major road infrastructure used to control vehicular traffic, thereby making access to various parts of cities easy for drivers.
A typical example of an interchange that has helped to reduce traffic hold-ups is the Ako Adjei Interchange.
Hitherto, vehicles on the Liberation Road towards the Jubilee House and those from the Ring Road towards Osu had a tough time moving smoothly, until the situation completely changed with the construction of the interchange.
Unfortunately, however, the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange has not completely lived up to expectation.
For instance, traffic from Accra Central towards the Caprice area still forms a gridlock, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon rush hours.
This is because there is a commercial lorry station right under the interchange which spills over to reduce the flow of traffic from the top.
The Kasoa Flyover has also not helped matters because of the continuous existence of market women and men by the sides of the road beneath and the bad behaviour of commercial vehicle drivers who do not heed road traffic regulations.
They stop and pick passengers at will, without regard for other road users and in the full glare of the police.
Again, after completing the three-lane flyover towards Winneba, the road narrows into a single lane, resulting in heavy traffic from that point.
Considering the rationale behind the construction of interchanges and flyovers, their full benefits cannot be felt if the authorities do not ensure the free flow of traffic beyond the interchanges and flyovers.
The Daily Graphic has observed, for instance, that after one has used the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange and moves towards the Awudome Cemetery area, the traffic which is avoided at the interchange begins to build heavily and vehicles virtually come to a standstill as they approach the Obetsebi-Lamptey Circle.
It is obvious that when the Obetsebi-Lamptey Interchange is completed, the challenge will abate.
However, we are of the view that, in the future, the architects of these interchanges should make the designs more comprehensive to ensure that the full benefits of the projects are derived.
These projects are executed at a huge cost to the taxpayer and, therefore, to a large extent, all efforts must be made to ensure that designs help ease traffic to make driving more convenient for the people.
One of the main reasons traffic builds up around the interchanges and impedes free flow of vehicles is that the authorities allow hawkers and squatters to take over the pavements, which are meant to keep pedestrians away from the road.
At the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, for instance, it is an eyesore when one looks down while on the interchange.
We believe that if the people are to derive the full benefits and have value for the money spent on such capital-intensive projects, road traffic laws must be enforced to the letter. This must be replicated in all other places, not just in the capital, to ensure smooth vehicular movement.
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