Community Report: Tattered streets in ‘prestigious’ North Legon

North Legon Residential Area is a relatively new development in the Ga East District of Accra. A quiet neighbourhood, somewhat prestigious but mostly for retirees in the civil service.

This is no estate development. What it is, is the blood and sweat of men and women who built everything themselves, or fought tooth and nail to bring whatever development they need to the area.

From installation and maintenance of street lights; a task that has been taken up by the new Assemblyman for the Area, to expulsion of squatters and delinquents, as well as the setup of a neighbourhood watchdog committee, all the residents ask for is safety, peace and quiet.

Residents of the area have for years supported each other, forming the North Legon Residents’ Association to see to the security, sanitation and other needs of its members.

In the early days, security was a grave concern. Armed robberies and muggings were the order of the day but with the introduction of the neighbourhood watch and provision of police patrols, crime has taken a drastic plunge.

A marijuana den which plagued the area for years and served as a hotbed for criminal activity has also been ejected, thanks to the efforts of the Residents’ Association and the Assembly. 

Oh, there are the usual problems every area faces these days, with electricity and water being top of the list but residents here have their own ideas about how to deal with those problems. What their concern is, at the moment, is the deplorable state their roads have fallen to, and the seeming reluctance of appropriate agencies to deal with the problem.

When road construction began in 2009 on the Madina-Legon stretch of road, residents of surrounding areas breathed a huge sigh of relief. Any attempts to mediate the unbearable traffic on the road were very much welcome to commuters from Oyibi, Adenta, Madina, Haatso and surrounding areas.

Residents of North Legon Residential Area, however, were informed that traffic from Madina would be diverted through two entry points of the area, one of which was originally planned as an alleyway cum emergency exit.

The paths to be utilised would be from the Madina Zongo, through Libya Quarters and onto the North Legon Residential Area’s Avenue ‘D’; and from firestone junction through Kofi Annan Avenue ‘E’ to join up with Avenue ‘D’.  Motorists would link onto the Atomic road through the main North Legon entrance this way.

Members of the Area’s Residential Association could not refuse the request to divert traffic through the quiet retirement neighbourhood; it would have been extremely un-neighbourly, but raised concerns about the state of the roads, which they feared would fall into disrepair with the sort of heavy duty vehicles usually seen plying the main roads.

Having been assured that the roads in question would be repaired after construction at the Atomic Junction, the residents put up with incessant honking from trotros and trucks, speeding motorists making turns at impossible speeds, and reduced pedestrian safety.

In 2012, just in time for the elections, the Atomic overhead was completed and traffic flow was once again directed onto the Legon-Madina road.

By that time, however, the roads used for the diversion had fallen into massive disrepair. Large patches of potholes now mar the streets in the otherwise pristine neighbourhood.

Avenue ‘D’ used has traffic from the Madina Zongo, through Libya Quarters to join the Atomic Road.

The residents of the area, who have to drive their pension cars over the “pothole” dotted streets, have requested several times for the roads to be repaired.

Perhaps also worrying is the safety of pedestrians, as motorists swing around potholes with no regard for whether or not persons, vehicles or animals are on the roads.

The entrance through firestone, the Assemblyman, Augustine Atsu Hayibortells, MyJoyOnline was supposed to be an alleyway. When it was used for the diversion, it was set as a one-way street. Now, pedestrians are forced to flatten themselves against the wall of the alleyway as ambling trucks crowd the narrow lane. Otherwise, they have to contend with smaller vehicles who insist on using the alley as a two-lane street.

This alleyway beside the Agrimat House was intended for use as an alleyway. 

Trucks continue to use the alley despite the damage and narrowness of the lane.

Some drivers, having gotten used to using the area as a diversion, still careen down the streets at high speeds and,  to the displeasure of residents, occasionally end up crashing into walls and gutters, most often while attempting to avoid the patches.

The danger is not only to pedestrians. One resident recounts how a “trotro” ran into a fully grown bull one late evening. The driver paused just long enough to inspect his vehicle and then sped off with no concern for the injured animal.

“There was a sickening thump and then the most awful sound I’ve ever heard from an animal. The owner had to come over from the Libya Quarters and put the poor thing out of its misery. No doubt there was a compulsory feast that night”, one resident who wants to remain unanimous recounted.

Meanwhile, trucks and other commercial vehicles without necessary licenses, and who would usually not be permitted to use the routes, in their bids to avoid police checkpoints, have gotten quite used to using the area as their getaway trails.

Requests to the Department of Urban Roads of the Ministry of Roads and Highway have yielded no results. The latest letter by the residents association, dated August 2014, was supported by a letter from Mr Atsu Hayibor.

Hon. Hayibor’s letter from the District Assembly has only received a customary reply from the Ministry acknowledging receipt of said letter. The residents’ Association has received no response.

A member of the Residents’ Association has indicated that direct talks with the contractor were met with a dead end.  Apparently the contractor, China Geo Engineering Cooperation, insists that payments have not been completed by government and that they do not have the necessary funds with which to hold up their end of the original bargain.

For now, the residents attempt to patch up the roads themselves but acknowledge that filling the potholes with construction waste does not stand well to rain.

They continue to reach out to the General Assembly through their Assemblyman, in hopes that something will be done about the situation soon but acknowledge that they may have to see to their needs themselves, as they’ve done in the past.

“When we came here, we had to arrange for our own electricity, our own water. Talking to authorities yielded no results. That’s why you see half the area sharing a phase with Libya Quarters and another with Legon University,” a resident complains bitterly.

He insists that his days of doing the government’s work are long over.

“Why did I work so hard for years to purchase a comfortable car for these old bones, only to rattle them about on these horrible streets?”

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