The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, yesterday cut the sod for an interchange at the Tema end of the Accra-Tema Motorway.
Work on the interchange is expected to be completed in 28 months.
Financed at a cost of $57 million by the Japanese government through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the project is expected to address the perennial traffic congestion within the enclave.
It will see the main roundabout converted into an interchange and extended for some 500 metres from the roundabout to the Ashaiman Timber Market Roundabout, 400 metres along the Aflao road, 300 metres towards the Tema Harbour and about 300 metres to join the main Tema-Accra Motorway.
As part of the project, an underpass will be constructed on the Tema-Aflao stretch of the roundabout, while the capacity of the slip roads near the roundabout will be improved to ensure uninterrupted traffic flow.
The project, which is under the West African Corridor Development Growth Ring (WAGRIC) Master Plan implementation, is being executed by Messrs Shimizu-Dai Nippon Joint Venture (SDJV), with CTI Engineering International Co. Ltd as consultants.
Speaking at the sod-cutting ceremony in Tema yesterday, Dr Bawumia said the project formed a critical part of the government’s vision to expand and grow the national economy.
He said the Tema Motorway, which was the busiest stretch of highway in the country and also one of the most important roads in West Africa, recorded an annual revenue of GH¢14.5 million from the over 35,000 vehicles that plied the route on a daily basis.
The Vice-President also said the road, an integral part of the Trans-Africa Highway stretching from Lagos through Lomé, Accra, Abidjan to Dakar, had served as a pillar in the promotion of trade among countries along the route and thus required its capacity to be improved to serve the test of time.
Generally, he said, there had been an appreciable improvement in the quality of the trunk road network in the country, as more and more kilometres of roads had been upgraded from gravel surface to bitumen surface, dressing roads or asphalt concrete surfacing.
“As a result, people and goods, as well as services, are getting to their destinations within shorter times and in a relatively more comfortable state,” he added.
Dr Bawumia, however, bemoaned the increasing levels of indiscipline on the roads, which he said had resulted in vehicular accidents, stressing that roads were to transform agriculture, port services, among others.
He, therefore, urged the motoring public to approach driving with caution to reduce the fatalities that had become the order of the day.
He commended the Government of Japan for its support for other projects, such as the rehabilitation of the 60-kilometre Anwiankwanta-Yamoransa trunk road, among others.
The Vice-President urged the Ministry of Roads and Highways and other stakeholders to ensure that the project was executed in a manner that ensured value for money to justify the huge financial resources committed to it.
The Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Kwasi Amoako-Atta, in his remarks, expressed worry at the siting of unauthorised structures along the motorway and gave a two-month ultimatum to individuals and organisations that had sited buildings and wooden structures along the stretch to remove them or have them forcibly removed.
He hinted that the ministry, in collaboration with the Tema Metropolitan Assembly and other stakeholders, were working out a resettlement package for squatters along the motorway and expressed the hope that they would cooperate with officials to help sanitise the stretch.
The Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Tsutomu Himeno, said the project would not only contribute to trade in the sub-region but also cement the deep friendship between Japan and Ghana.
He gave an assurance that Japan would continue to support Ghana in her quest to develop critical areas of the economy.
The Country Director of JICA, Mr Hirofumi Hoshi, for his part, said his organisation had been co-operating with Ghana for the past 55 years through many schemes and expressed the hope that the latest intervention would go a long way to improve international trade through the Tema Port and Ghana’s neighbouring countries.
The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr Ishmael Ashitey, in his welcome address, said Ghana’s ability to achieve growth and poverty reduction largely depended on an efficient, reliable and safe road infrastructure system and urged the public to bear with the government and the contractors for any inconvenience that might arise as a result of the project.