ECONOMIC activities at Sogakope in the Volta Region, have returned almost to normal, following the installing of photo voltaic- based streetlights in the area, ensuring uninterrupted supply of power at night.
It is part of a 7.6 million Euro Austrian Government – funded project, executed by the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA), covering 10 roads intersections and totalling 510.5 kilometres, spreading over seven regions. It is to improve visibility in hazardous road sections during adverse weather conditions to reduce road crashes.
The project has come with enhanced economic activities at night in the 45 communities covered by the photo voltaic street lighting system that uses the ultra-violet rays in the atmosphere to generate electricity during the day for supply in the evening.
The Ghanaian Times, during a visit by journalists to Sogakope last Friday, observed booming economic activities at the South Tongo District capital and adjoining communities to observe the impact of the novelty photo voltaic street lighting system in the communities.
The street lights, provided by the Electricity Company of Ghana did not work faulty during load shedding. Only the filling stations providing light in parts of the community from their generating sets during the night.
The photovoltaic based street light automatically came on in the evening around 6:30 p.m. providing light for traders, especially street sellers to display their wares, including bread, Turkey tail, khebbab, abolo and “One Man Thousand,” “ayigbe biscuit,” lobster, and call credit, for sale to commuters plying the road.
Priscilla Bufia, a food joint operator at the Sogakope barrier, toll booth said the street lights had offered her the opportunity to sell late into the night to make extra income.
Abubakari Sokoto said the lights had made the “place to look nice” and helped sustain his “kyenkyenga” business, expressing the hope that the light would always be there through maintenance to sustain its life span.
Cecilia Ako, who sells abolo and “one man thousand” (fingerlings), told The Ghanaian Times that the street lights had helped her to sell late into the night to make extra income saying that when there were no street lights, she could not sell in the evening .
Daniel Gbadago, a youth in the area, said the streetlights had provided them with the opportunity to socialise in the evening, adding, “when you are walking in the night, no one can harm you.”
Giving his perspective about the provision of the streetlights, Ghana Immigration Service Shift Supervisor at the Sogakope barrier Assistant Inspector of Immigration Simon K. Ackah, said it had helped to expedite immigration processes and that they were able to track people who would want to avoid the processes at night.
Reacting to concerns about the safety of the hawkers, the Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Highway Authority, Mr. Norbert Quarmor, told newsmen that street hawking had become part of the economic livelihood of people, which “we have to live with and manage to ensure their safety through responsible driving and public education.”
The installation of the more than 1,207 photo voltaic lightcovers 10 road sections and major junctions: Madina-Pantang, Fiesta Royale-GIMPA Junction, Tema-Sogakope-Ho, Kasoa- Winneba, Winneba-Cape Coast, and Cape Coast-Takoradi, Accra-Kumasi, Kumasi Techiman, Techiman-Sunyani.
The major junctions are Bunso, Anyinam and Juaso on Accra-Kumasi road and Mankraso and Tepa Junctions on the Kumasi-Sunyani Roads.
The project came with the installation of 250 illuminated traffic signs for speed limits, pedestrian crossings and approaches to narrow bridges along project roads, maintenance tools and spare parts, two trucks with lifting platforms and three supervisory vehicles.
The Director of Road Safety and Environment of the GHA, Victor Owusu, said 12 engineers had been trained to periodically undertake maintenance on the streetlights, Adding that the GHA had collaborated with other stakeholders to educate the community to guard against pilfering and damage to the system.
From Salifu Abdul-Rahaman