#SafeMotorway4All: Accra-Tema Motorway plunges into darkness as streetlights dim

As the number of dead streetlights along the Accra-Tema Motorway rises with each passing week, commuters’ lives are at risk

Driving on the Accra-Tema Motorway at night can be a daunting experience. The road is shrouded in darkness with only a few scattered lights.

This makes it difficult for drivers to see the highway, especially in areas without reflective markers or road signs.

The dearth of streetlights along the motorway is a significant safety challenge that puts commuters at risk, leading to accidents and providing cover for crimes such as highway robbery – and further theft of lights.

The motorway has become a target for criminal gangs that use the dark as cover to rob and attack unsuspecting motorists.

The police and the Ghana Highways Authority have made efforts to address the problems, but progress has been slow.

Monitoring and checks

Asaase News noted that the entire length of the motorway had solar-powered streetlights installed. But our inspections showed that many of the lampposts, situated 50 metres apart along the median of the highway, had broken or missing bulbs.

Speeding cars had also knocked down a couple of the poles, leaving some parts of the roadway completely in the dark.

Witnesses claimed they had seen individuals and groups cannibalising metal parts of the lampposts, exposing the electric wires and destroying the lights.

Watch a clip by Caleb Ahinakwah of our #SafeMotorway4All campaign on risks posed by dead streetlights:


Misery for road users

Many drivers who said they use the highway frequently expressed acute dissatisfaction with the dimness of the light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and the streetlights’ inability to provide adequate visibility at night time.

A commercial vehicle driver who gave his name as Kyereh spoke to Asaase News.

“It is terrible, and there’s a lot going on,” he said, “particularly at night when the streetlights are off. The thieves and armed robbers attack mainly around 9pm, 9.30pm, 10pm, 11pm. Around those hours, it is difficult for us to work,” Kyereh said.

Selikem Tulasi, a taxi driver, explained how helpful it was some years ago to have working streetlights. 

“About a year ago, when the streetlights were fixed, they were helpful. Now all the lamps are off and our headlights aren’t even enough to avoid potholes.”

A truck driver, Musah Yakubu, recalled a number of accidents he has witnessed at night. “At night, it is always trouble. I have seen a lot of trucks fall into ditches and collide with smaller cars because of poor visibility. They should fix it.”

Accra-Tema Motorway/#SafeMotorway4All

Wishing on a prayer

Diane Ocloo, a commuter, said she believes it is only her silent prayers that have taken her home safe each night she has used the motorway. 

“When I alight from the taxi it’s scary, because the streetlight, which was supposed to brighten the walking path, is no longer working. So I rely on my phone light and prayers to keep me moving.

“It’s not easy because I have heard stories of women being attacked around the evening,” she said.

David Osafo Adonteng, the acting director of the National Road Safety Authority, responded to the evidence from checks made by the Asaase News crew, saying that the NRSA had made similar findings.

The Ministry of Energy has long-term plans to develop a street lighting policy that will help address concerns about standards for lighting the nation’s streets, Adonteng told Asaase.

Why streetlights matter 

The Accra-Tema Motorway is an important commercial route, connecting businesses and industries in Accra and Tema.

At the most basic level, good lighting along the motorway can help enhance the visibility of these businesses, attracting more customers and boosting economic activity in the area.

But the main reason for streetlights on any roadway is to enhance safety. They are important for ensuring that motorists see clearly and navigate safely, especially at night. Streetlights provide visibility for drivers, pedestrians and other road users, reducing the risk of accidents and making roads safer for everyone.

Good lighting is an important factor in enhancing security. It can help deter criminals from engaging in activities such as theft and vandalism, simply by providing a well-lit environment and increasing the visibility of potential offenders.

Caleb Ahinakwah, correspondent for Asaase News’s #SafeMotorway4All

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