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September 11, 2020

Great technology transfer achievements to overcome COVID-19: Opening of one of the largest underpasses in Ghana

photo
The Tema Motorway Interchange, with the largest underpass in Ghana, opened (Photo: Shimizu Corporation)

“This project, which was funded by the Government of Japan, will bring relief to residents and motorists who have been enduring the inconvenience of unbearable traffic congestion and a poor road network.”

photoPresident Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo delivering a speech at the opening ceremony

These were the words of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the Republic of Ghana delivering a speech in June this year at the opening ceremony of the Tema Motorway Interchange, which became the largest underpass in the country.

ARAKI Yasumichi, Chief Representative of JICA Ghana Office, in a congratulatory speech, also emphasized the importance of the underpass. “We believe this high-quality road infrastructure will bring a better future for all people in the region by improving Ghana's transport sector and strengthening regional economic logistics,” he said.

The completion of the Tema Motorway Interchange is expected to contribute to not only Ghana’s economic growth but also economic development through the improvement of transport and logistics in West Africa as a whole.

Alleviating heavy traffic congestion of over one kilometer

The Tema Motorway Interchange is situated at an important point where traffic from two international corridors meet, one from Accra, Ghana's capital city, and the other from Tema, the largest port city in the country. However, chronic traffic congestion during morning and evening commuting hours has been a pressing issue for the government to tackle.

To improve this situation, the “Project for Improvement of Ghanaian International Corridors” was implemented, and the Tema Motorway Interchange was completed after 28 months of construction work. This project realizes one of the priority projects proposed in the “West Africa Growth Ring Corridor Master Plan,” formulated under assistance from JICA in 2018, and is expected to support the economic development of the entire West Africa region.

YAMAMOTO Masashi, a staff member at JICA Ghana Office, said, “The completion of the Tema Motorway Interchange has helped to eliminate traffic congestion that sometimes exceeded one kilometer, and this has delighted the people in the region. As a result, goods and people can move more quickly, leading to improved logistics not only in Ghana but also in West Africa as a whole.”

In a speech at the opening ceremony, the president announced plans for road development for the area around the intersection. It is expected that the development of corridors and the revitalization of logistics across West Africa will create a positive growth cycle of investment promotion and market expansion, boosting sustainable and resilient economic growth.

photoTema intersection before construction

photoNewly opened Tema Motorway Interchange with an underpass

Japanese safety education and management have resulted in more than 2.4 million accident-free man-hours

The Tema Motorway Interchange has the longest underpass in Ghana and consist of six lanes for the main road, five service roads, eight ramps for right-turn traffic, four pedestrian bridges with wheel chair ramps, signals, and street lights.

In the construction, a drone-based monitoring system was introduced. This system is easy to operate for local engineers with limited experience in drones, and its aerial images were effectively utilized for the construction management. The contractor also adapted Japanese safety management and in their efforts to raise safety awareness among the Ghanaian and other workers led them to achieve more than 2.4 million accident-free man-hours of operation..

photoUnderground road construction at the Tema Motorway Interchange shot with drone (Photo: Shimizu Corporation)

Mr. UEMURA Yuji (Project Manager of the Tema Motorway Roundabout Improvement Project, SHIMIZU DAI NIPPON JV) stated, “There were various issues leading up to the project but with the cooperation of the Government of Ghana, JICA, and the Ghanaian people, the construction was completed safely within the planned construction period. Seeing Ghanaian people driving through the intersection with smiles on their faces is rewarding. It's a great feeling!” he says with a sense of accomplishment.

photoA Ghanaian government official introduces the Tema Motorway Interchange to the president at the opening ceremony

Although the construction work progressed smoothly, COVID-19 had an impact on the project near completion. In Ghana, the first case of corona infection was confirmed on March 12, and the number of infected people subsequently increased. Construction personnel from Japan and other countries needed to return to their home countries.

However, even after the Japanese workers left, the Ghanaian staff were able to continue the remaining work towards completion, making full use of web-based remote assistance from Japan. The Japanese staff has successfully transferred technology and project management know-how to the Ghanaian team. The completion of the Tema Motorway Interchange could not have been done without local capacity enhanced through working with Japanese engineers.

photoGhanaian workers celebrating the completion of work

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