Nana Pra upstream

Nana Pra upstream

Crossing the River Pra

Part 2

As you now know if you have been reading this blog, the bridge at Praso has been closed for repairs. Ten days ago, my wife and I decided to detour around it via Oda. With the wisdom of hindsight and past experience, we set off early from New Edubiase at 11:15 a.m. Branching off the highway several kilometres south of town, we were pleasantly surprised to be driving on a recently tarred road, travelling by oil palm and cocoa farms and then into the forest reserve. It was a lovely drive, with only a few short stretches as yet incomplete, and we made a note to remember this drive to take visitors who wish to see the countryside.

It was not long before we reached the Pra River. We crossed on a short bridge, stopping at the other side for me to snap some quick photos before a truck and passenger lorry approached from the opposite direction. The tarred road ended at the bridge to be replaced by a narrow and rutted path. We soon caught up to a timber truck that lumbered along at a snail’s pace until he reached a knoll and pulled over. Thinking he had done so for my benefit, I quickly slipped on by him, just in time to see the orange Mass Metro bus bearing down on us. I squeezed to the right and the bus passed by.

The road began to improve slightly, and then returned to a tarred surface like the one which we had first encountered. We smiled with assurance and debated where we might begin turning back towards Assin Fosu. Would we have to go all the way to Oda or would there be a turn off somewhere that would shorten the trip? Once again I remembered my excellent road maps, still stored safely in the glove compartment of the car back in Busua!!

The tarred road ended, and turned onto the paved highway which leads into Oda, thus ending the debate. Soon we could see the old single lane bridge over the Birim River on the outskirts of Oda. We passed over, stopping briefly at the Police barricade to inquire about directions to Assin Fosu. The Inspector puzzled over the question for a few moments and then advised us that we ask at the lorry station in town. We were grateful that he was not related to a certain taxi driver – the memory of our wrong turn a few weeks earlier was still with us. If the Inspector did not know, at least he was not giving us an incorrect answer.

Nana Pra downstream

Nana Pra downstream

It took several more inquiries to get on the proper road but soon we were heading towards Akim Swedru, cruising along on a tarred surface, passing through that town until we reached Akim Achiase. The good road promptly ended, and from there until we reached the junction at Assin Brofeyedru, it was slow going. We were not alone on the road, meeting passenger lorries from time to time, often carrying funeral goers.

At one village we drove up to a makeshift blockade, manned by young men dressing in red and black. A timber truck had been stopped on the other side of the blockade and some of the young men were in a discussion with the driver. Several young men came up to our vehicle, asking for one Ghana cedi from us before they would allow us to pass. They explained that the chief of the village had just died and the funds were required in order to celebrate the funeral. We readily made our contribution and were once again on our way.

Finally we passed an intersection which we recognized, even though we had only seen it once before and then in the dark. It was the place where a certain taxi driver could not bring himself to tell us that he did not know the correct way, the junction which set us off on a wrong turn several weeks earlier. Of course, the driver meant no harm – he was only trying to please us by supplying an answer to our question. Chances are that he really did not know where that road passed.

Another few kilometres and we pulled onto the Cape Coast/Kumasi highway at Assin Brofoyedru. It was almost 2:30 and had taken slightly more than three hours to drive a distance that would have been done in less than thirty minutes if we had been able to cross the bridge at Praso. Is it any wonder that so many people are so unhappy with the contractor who was supposed to complete bridge repairs two weeks earlier!!!

The remainder of our return was on familiar turf and by the time we were safely back in Busua, we had visited four of the country’s Regions, beginning in the Ashanti Region, crossing south and east into the Eastern Region, then returning west and further south into the Central Region, and then along the coastal highway to the Western Region. Our trip had begun an hour and half south of Kumasi, taken us through Oda, then skirted around Cape Coast, and bypassed Takoradi.

Four Regions and four Regional capitals in one day and on road surfaces of all types – not bad, I would say.  We could only hope that urban dwellers, particularly those in Accra, would consider making such a trip from time to time. Perhaps the awareness which the trip would generated might influence better decisions by taking into account the majority of the nation’s citizens who still live in rural areas. The road less traveled for some is the only road for them.

The bridge that does work

The bridge that does work

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