The Eastern Corridor road, otherwise known as the National Highway 2 (N2) has often been in the news for both good and bad reasons.
It makes good headlines in the news for being the shortest route from the south to the north of the country, through to the sahelien region of Burkina Faso and Mali.
Conversely, the road attracts unenviable headlines for its dust during the dry season and with deep potholes and gullies, often rutted by erosion during the rainy season.
Trucks carrying loads of yams and other farm produce getting stuck in muddy potholes on the stretch are very common sight.
Sections of the road become unmotorable during rainy season, resulting in persistent outcry from the communities along the road for having been cut off from the rest of the country.
“We don’t want money, we want the road, if we get the road we can make money for ourselves, we are farmers, we cultivate yam, we don’t have the road to transport our produce to market centres,” was the chorus that greeted me from a group at Danado, a farming community along the corridor located in the Nanumba South District of the Northern Region, as I dropped off an Okada ride from Kpassah to Damanko to interact with them.
One of them, Thomas Donkor Ogaja, mentioned poor condition of the road, lack of potable water, clinic, streetlight, and dilapidated primary school block as a major concern of the community that needs redress.
Also known as Tema-Ouga-Bamako Trade Corridor, the Eastern corridor road covers a distance of approximately 697 kilometres, stretching from Tema-Atimpoku-Asikuma-Hohoe-Nkwanta-Bimbilla-Yendi-Gusheigu-Nankpaduri-Garu-Bawku-to Kulungugu on the Ghana Burkina- Faso frontier.
It traverses six regions: Greater Accra, Volta, Oti, Eastern, Northern and Upper East regions.
The road is being developed as strategic alternative route to the main Central Corridor road from Accra-Kumasi-Techiman-Kintampo-Tamale-Bolgatanga-Navrongo-Paga on the Burkina-Faso border that covers a distance of more than 800 kilometres.
As a commercial north-south corridor, the N2 is expected to serve as an efficient alternative transport route to enhance inclusiveness of the community along the route, stimulate socio-economic development and facilitate domestic and regional integration.
The corridor is renowned for its fertile land for the production of cassava, rice, yam, corn to mention but a few.
Indeed, the Eastern Corridor is a blessed land of people living in misery as a result of the poor condition of a section of the road.
Although, from Asikuma through to Nkwanta to Damanko, Kpassah to Bimbila and Yendi, are under various stages of execution from various funding arrangement, cruising on the road reveals to me that all is not well, especially with the stretch from Kpassah through Damanko, Bimbilla to Yendi.
As you drive from Nkwanta to Yendi, the asphalt on that stretch is in “bits and pieces”. You will drive on an asphalt for a few kilometres, then you get relapsed into a bumpy and dusty road for another few kilometres, and it continues like that, making the trip unenjoyable.
The vehicles plying the Nkwanta-Bimbilla stretch are not comfortable to ride in; they are rickety and look as ugly as some portions of the road.
Constructing one kilometre of asphalt road is estimated to cost one million cedis. And for a country like Ghana with limited resources, and in the midst of numerous demands on the national kitty, getting all the 697 kilometres stretch completely asphalt, for now, will be a distant dream.
Though, there is firm commitment from officialdom to fix the entire stretch and make the dream trip from Tema through Volta and Oti regions to the north and to the Sahelien region in no time, one drawback is still certain–the wherewithal.
Until then, commercial transport and freights from Yendi will continue to take a detour to the south through the Central Corridor from Tamale, a journey of about 13 hours, instead of halving it through the Eastern corridor.
Poverty will continue to be the lot of the farming communities along the corridor, because of their inability to transport their farm produce to marketing centres. Their cry goes on loudest.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman