He hurtled downhill from the administration block. It was an unusual sight to see after prep; a cyclist going at it. He weaved between us with ease. Just then ahead of us was a car also moving uphill, presumably a teacher on his way back from town. He blew his horn and we gave way. The startled cyclist looked up a little too late. He veered sharply away from the vehicle and faced a mass of white shirts. He moved again and his progress was halted cruelly by the storm gutter on the shoulders of the road. His head smashed on the gutter lip. His arm and leg were similarly pinned against the wreck of his bicycle. He lay prone. The whole incident was like a scene in a movie. Such a grisly scene will not be forgotten so easily.
To this day I dislike riding my bicycle on roads with open gutters. Sad because that means they are practically everywhere. About a week ago I witnessed a gutter being constructed on my street. The whole incident from that prep night from years back played itself in my head. I have pondered on countless occasions what would have happened if the gutter was covered. As it was an isolated event I looked at the bigger picture. Aside from the obvious reason that people dumped their rubbish into open drains which eventually blocked them there are other reasons why open drains are not good for the Ghanaian. My topmost priority is the unavailability of sidewalks on most roads for the Ghanaian pedestrian. Many roads in residential areas and even some commercial areas are narrow. The gutters which flank these roads are often quite large. This predisposes pedestrians and cyclists to careless motorists who feel they have a larger right of way. The situation worsens when there are instances of parking on such roads. It becomes one way and a pedestrian has to strafe past the car and hope any advancing motorist would be patient enough for him or her to pass. You can imagine what a child would do in such a situation. The child would attempt to run by quickly.
When you take a look at most of Tema (the established communities) and some parts of Accra you notice that most of the gutters are covered with concrete slabs leaving holes in the covers for rain to pass through in case of a storm. Such a design provides a natural sidewalk for pedestrians to walk on. Sadly they are deteriorating as some motorists park their vehicles on them, notably truck drivers or those operating heavy machines. Age is also a contributor and we can see this type of drain design quickly disappearing.
As a pedestrian and occasional cyclist I believe adding a sidewalk by covering drains and gutters by roads would be most beneficial. It would also curb the primordial practice of pouring rubbish into open drains in the belief rain water would carry it away.