The deplorable and terrible state of the abandoned 7.5-kilometer Asonge-Pelungu road in the Nabdam District of the Upper East Region is making life despondent for commuters, motorists, farmers, and vulnerable pregnant women.
The yet-to-be tarred road with an overwhelming number of potholes also has its gravel washed away by the torrential rains, exposing stones, particularly along the Damolgo-Tindongo area, which impede movement and easily cause accidents.
Vulnerable pregnant women, the most adversely affected group of people, and other users continue to experience unpleasant ordeals each hour, with some commuters, including nurses, reportedly losing their pregnancies on the road due to its rocky and undulating nature.
Health care, as declared by the World Health Organization, is a human right, and no one should be deprived of it even because they are poor. But this right is questionable for the people along the abandoned Asonge-Pelungu road, as access to healthcare is extremely difficult due to the terrible state of the road.
The immediate past Nabdam District Health Director, Timothy Mahama Awentok, in an interview earlier with A1 News Gilbert Azeem Tiroog, said the poor state of the road is impeding access to healthcare by the people and making referral cases even more difficult.
“In referral cases, time is of essence, and it’s a challenge when it comes to referral cases even within the district, but more extremely difficult outside the district, especially referrals from Sakoti or Pelungu to the Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga, because this rocky road, which is posing a threat, is the major road linking these health facilities,” he stated.
Mr. Awentok noted that cases of women losing their pregnancies are among the many bitter experiences of people in the communities, adding that a health nurse lost her pregnancy while riding home from work due to the shaky nature of the road, which caused her to bleed.”
“Apart from community members who have challenges, including coming to the facilities and even being referred to the regional hospital at Bolgatanga, one of our nurses ever lost her pregnancy through that road.She rode from Bolgatanga to work and was riding back and apparently when she got home she started having some spotting and this is because the rocky nature of the road can precipitate or cause bleeding and it was related to that,” he stated.
“Though our staff case is one of many recorded, things like these drive health workers and other essential workers away from the district,” he added.
Largely, roads are the arteries through which economies thrive as they are linked to all sectors, including health, agriculture, and others, in the economies of countries and therefore pose a threat to these sectors when they are in a poor state, but that is the exact account given by users of the Asonge-Pelungu road.
An eyewitness to an accident that occurred on the Asonge-Pelungu road just before the Zanlerigu Junior High School on July 23, 2023, Tii Bugre, narrates.
“At about 30 metres away from the accident scene, I heard and saw them wailing while their buckets and basins rolled gently into the muddy waters on the road. It took the efforts of other tricycle drivers to get them up and though none of them complained of serious injury, minor bruises could be seen on some of them.”
Impact on Agriculture
Some tomato farmers along the Damolgu-Tindongu area had to fold up because the lack of a bridge in the area has created room for their farms to get flooded whenever the torrential rains set in at a time before harvest.
In an interview with the 2022 Nabdam District second-runner-up tomato farmer, Nteba Yagre, he lamented the difficulty farmers in the area have in transporting their goods to the Bolgatanga Market for sale.
“It is very difficult and more expensive to transport our tomatoes to the Bolgatanga market because of the bad state of the road. We are not even charged based on the distance but by the poor state of the road that causes undue delays”.
“All we need is for the government to even gravel the road so that we can transport our tomatoes to the market without them being damaged on our arrival, or this is too much to ask. We are in the season again, and we will soon start transporting our goods to the Bolgatanga Market, but we are very worried as of now,” he added.
An Agriculture Policy Consultant, Emmanuel Wullingdol, has indicated that businesses in the Northern sector do not stand a better chance of benefiting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) project despite the opportunities it presents.
He noted that supply limitations due to poor roads and an unstable power supply were major concerns for businesses in the northern sector, and until those are addressed, businesses may not be able to benefit from the project.
The road is an earth road constructed in 1957 as a major road linking communities in the Zoliba and Sakoti electoral areas to the main Bolgatanga-Bawku highway.
In 2018, the government awarded the road on contract, and works were to commence in May 2018 and be completed by May 21, 2019. However, things didn’t go as planned, as the contractor only constructed some of the bridges as of late 2020 and abandoned the site.
On June 20, 2022, the Member of Parliament for Nabdam, Dr. Mark Kurt Nawaane, filed a question in parliament, requiring the Minister of Roads and Highways to respond on the status of the Asonge-Pelungu (7.5km) road.
Mr. Amoako Atta, the Minister of Roads and Highways, admitted that the Asonge-Pelungu road was an earth road in poor condition; however, he said the Feeder Roads Department had initiated procedural steps to terminate the road contract to be repackaged as the contractor had left the site despite several warning letters.
Apart from the Bolgatanga-Bawku highway, which passes through the district, and a part of the now deteriorated Sakoti road, which never saw the light of day with its first code of tarring, no single road in the district has ever been tarred.
The contribution of good roads to the economies of countries across the globe is well known as it forms the major source of income in the area of transport, but the loss of precious lives in a rather busier manner on roads as a result of its poor state is one that causes unending tears among families whose relatives perishes on such roads.
The government could not be wrong in its flagship planting for food and jobs program, which is meant to boost the food basket and provide people with decent income, but if the fundamentals, such as good roads linking various communities to markets, are unavailable, then this reality will remain a mirage in parts of the country with such a problem.
The one district, one ambulance policy will only function to its fullest if there are good roads, and it is prudent for the government to channel its efforts towards the construction of roads like this one.
Until the government initiates urgent steps to construct the Asonge-Pelungu (7.5km) road, commuters and motorists will continue to wallow in the abyss of potholes while tomato farmers count their losses seasonally.
Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Gilbert Azeem Tiroog|Ghana