Not up to the load

Recently the Chief of Cape Three Points was asked by a visitor to outline the needs of his community. His answer was quick and unwavering – electricity for the village, and an accessible all weather road for the area.

For some folks here in Ghana, the name “Cape Three Points” is synonymous with oil and riches, but for people like myself who frequently visit the village that gave the offshore oilfield its name, the name conjures up respect for the resiliency and good humour of its citizens. For far too long, they have been isolated from their share of the improving economics of the country because of the poor condition of the road which leads in and out of their area.

The author with Nana, the author's son, and a visitor

From where one leaves the pavement on the Agona/Dixcove branch, the dirt road is dusty and extremely rough in the dry season, and muddy and often impassable for anything other than the most robust four wheel drive vehicle when it rains. There are countless streams, lagoons and low lying areas to pass over and through on the way to Cape Three Points and just as many bridges of various types and in different states of repair. Any one of them could prevent someone from completing their journey in or out of the village, emergency or not.

One of these bridges is no more than some logs straddling the banks of the stream with planks placed on top. The planks have given out on several occasions (see photos above and below) and loaded trucks have fallen through, blocking the way until such time as the drivers find a way of getting them back on the road. The bridge is “repaired”, awaiting the next time that it is not capable of withstanding a load that crosses it, and the cycle is repeated.

In a change of policy that is ostensibly intended to support and encourage tourism, the Government of Ghana moved routes which lead to important tourism destinations out of the Feeder Roads category into the Highways category. To date, that has done little to permanently improve to road to Cape Three Points even though the area is home to many tourist attractions including a forest that is unique enough to be categorized for its “Significant World Class Biodiversity”. Word reached the village this week that Highways is coming to grade the road and that will be most welcome, but it does not address the issue of bridges.

Fuel tanker stranded after breaking through the bridge planks... again!

The issue of bridges on the road to Cape Three Points is not a new one. A couple years ago the news media carried a story about a bridge being “destroyed” by displeased youth from one of the villages on that road. The media was not accurate in its portrayal of the circumstances – the bridge did not exist and the youth were doing their best to draw the attention of the public to the sorry state of affairs on their road and others in the area. And in December a delegation of Chiefs from the Western Region met unsuccessfully with Parliament to discuss the need for improved infrastructure, including roads and bridges, for their area.

The time is long overdue for the matter to be addressed in a meaningful way and for proper access be provided for the people and villages in the Cape Three Points area.

Another broken plank in a bridge of promises