Clear these weeds from GW Bush Highway

Opinion Icon News[2]

Sat, 22 Nov 2014 Source: Pacas, Idris

The central reservation on the GW Bush Highway starting from Abrantie Spot at Lapaz through to Nii Boi Lorry Station is strangely weedy and bushy. The weeds are thickly established and some have grown extremely tall: up to 1.5 m (see photo attached).

Central reservation (Bristish English, BrE) or median (American English, AmE) is a narrow strip of land that separates lanes of traffic travelling in opposite directions. A road with a central reservation is called a dual carriageway (BrE) or divided highway (AmE). On some dual carriageways, the central reservation is reduced into a thick wall or strong and thick metal bars supported on firm metal posts.

Most medians that are wide are paved with concrete or tiles. Such wide central reservations serve as traffic islands (temporary resting places for those who are only able to run across one lane before the traffic light shows red). To decorate cities, town and city councils do establish ornamental plants including lawn grasses on some central reservations. The median at the aforementioned part of the GW Bush Highway is not planted with ornamentals. Instead, it was filled with earth, ‘compacted’ and covered with ‘ballast’ (rock chippings).

Despite the compaction and ballast cover, the WEEDS colonized the median strip and even managed to grow incredibly tall. More so, the weed population is extremely diverse: I counted 8 different species within a 10-metre stretch.

Some of them are even woody plants such as Sodom apple (Calotropis procera). The non-woody species such as guinea grass (Panicum maximum) and millet (Pennisetum sp.) are the tallest (over 1.5 metres). Other low-growing weeds such as spreading hogweed (Boerhavia diffusa), buchelor button (Gomphrena globosa), common wireweed (Sida acuta) and crowfoot grass (Eleusine indica) have grown so compactly that the median is almost converted into a thicket. The dominant weed species spiny amaranth (Amaranthus spinus) overgrew so much that they hang over the median as if they are awnings. Presumably, the overgrown spiny amaranth is the main reason that vehicles using the inner lane have to veer more than a metre away from the median.

But how did such a diverse weed population colonize a city-centre road? —Silt is deposited on the median. Keenly, I observed the road cleaners sweep on a number of occasions. When cleaning, the sweepers gather the soil particles on the road, collect them and scatter them on the median. The effects of this malpractice are two: the silt soon scatters back onto the street and it attracts weeds onto the road.

Are there any adverse effects of having a grassland on the Nation’s No.1 Highway?—Numerous. First, it is an eyesore especially at a time Accra claims to be the Millenium City. Second, the well-established grassland traps other refuse carried by the wind (eg, empty ‘pure’ water sachets which abound there). Third, the bushland attracts some passers-by to drop more rubbish (just move to the spot to see for yourself). Fourth, the place can harbour /harba/ dangerous reptiles such as snakes! (Never be surprise. And if you’re, first imagine what brought weeds to the heart of Accra to grow to that extent without being controlled. It is the same mysterious circumstances through which snakes can invade and multiply there.)

In engineering terms, deep-rooted species such as Sodom apple are known to weaken roads. How? Their roots penetrate the soil, creating holes for both air and water to enter. With subsequent leaf fall and decomposition, the surrouding soil becomes loose. Hence, heavy trucks passing over may cause ‘drum holes’ to develop on the road.

I am therefore appealing to the appropriate authorities to clear the weeds as soon as possible. In removing the weeds, the authorities may do the following: (1) spray the weeds with appropriate herbicides and allow the sprayed plants to dry completely before being cleared off (2) stop those sweeping the road from depositing soil particles on the median and (3) establish lawn grasses on the strip. Any attempt to weed (dig up the plants manually) may necessitate creating deeper holes and this situation spoils the road the more.

A similar activity occurs when gutters are desilted. When the street gutters are choked, contracts are awarded to some KNOWN INDIVIDUALS to desilt them. But what do we see? The contractors remove the silt and place it too close to the gutter, presumably to allow the water to drain back into the gutter. The silt is left there for one to several weeks. Thus, passers-by and nearby shop owners have to endure the stench during the period the silt is being dried.

And by the time the contractor returns to collect the dry silt, more than half the quantity earlier removed would have gone back into the gutter! The wind would have also blown away the plastics and paper pieces. To worsen matters, the contractors collect only the top part of the silt leaving the rest to form a ‘heap’ on the shoulder of the road (such ‘compacted heaps’ are ubiquitous on our urban roads; one of such fascinating heaps is located at the outer lane of GW Bush Highway directly in front of Las Palmas Restaurant at Lapaz). Consequently, within 3 to 6 months, the once-desilted gutter is choked again and the same contractor goes back to the assembly to demand being re-awarded another contract for same job. And this cycle continues. The question is ‘Does this practice amount to job creation or waste of state resources?’ And do we have a role to play to stop it? The city authorities, you (the readers) and I (the writer) all have key roles to play to keep our cities clean and safe. Let’s do so.

Long live practising teachers! Long live concerned citizens! Long live Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana! IDRIS PACAS 020 910 153 3 Iddrisuabdulai12@yahoo.com

Columnist: Pacas, Idris