Correspondence from Kumasi
Residents of the Ashanti regional capital Kumasi have had to endure the inconveniences of being held up in traffic jams the whole of Thursday as the city gets inundated with visitors attending this year’s National Independence Day Celebration Parade.
Kumasi is hosting the national commemoration for the first time after President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo–Addo embarked on the novelty of shuffling the function among the various regions outside the capital Accra which has always been the traditional venue.
The historic event has however not come without the attendant cost of congestion especially on busy roads as dignitaries, government officials, invited guests and the interested public troop into the region in their numbers to observe the occasion.
Another factor that has increased the presence of political players of the New Patriotic Party to Kumasi is the fact that the party would want to create a good impression of itself in their stronghold and also catch the eye of the public as it looks into the year 2020.
The roads hard hit by the long traffic hold-ups included the stretch from the Asokwa Interchange to the Baba Yara Sports Stadium; Abrepo junction to Suame Roundabout; Santase roundabout to Ahodwo; Santase roundabout towards Bekwai roundabout.
Other areas that also witnessed similar inconveniences were the Ridge School stretch through the Officers Mess to the Bekwai Roundabout.
In the central business district, the linking roads from the Aseda House, A-Life Supermarket to the offices of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly also took commuters relatively longer periods to go through.
One feature that also colored the roads was the constant blurring of Sirens and security lights from SUVs and dispatch riders accommodating sets of other luxurious vehicles.
Not even the whining of passengers in traffic will bother the occupants of these vehicles who were barely visible for their tinted windshields and door glasses.
Meanwhile, the Police service has advised motorists in Kumasi to plan using alternative routes as it has designated some roads which have been pencilled for temporal closures as part of security measures.
According to a statement signed by the Regional Police Public Relations Officer ASP Godwin Ahianyo, the affected roads include the Afful Nkwanta and Asokwa mall traffic lights the stadium as well as the road between the Unity oil fuel station and the T.I Ahmadiya Senior High School.
“The road from ‘It’s My Kitchen Restaurant’ to Briginia will also be closed to the general motoring public with the exception of those with accreditation to enter the Heroes Park and the Hockey Pitch.”
Some five parking spaces including the Hockey Pitch, the Heroes Park, the Scoreboard area have been designated for the chiefs, Diplomatic Core and Contingent Busses.
Aside from the on-ground traffic, the air space around Oforikrom, Amakom through Ahodwo to Nhyieso and Suame have also seen some considerable display of helicopters practising their manoeuvres for the parade.
The event which is on the theme: “Consolidating our Gains” will be attended by President Akufo Addo, the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, and other dignitaries including Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, who is the Special Guest.
The Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Diseases has urged Ghanaians not to throw caution to the wind as masses gather at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium to observe the 63rd Independence Day Ceremony Parade.
Enthusiasm in the Ashanti Regional Capital Kumasi is high as this will be the first time the National Event is being held in the region only second to Tamale which saw the first National event held outside Accra.
Another attracting force is the election year euphoria among supporters of the governing New Patriotic Party who have taken keen interest even during the parade rehearsal sessions in the party’s stronghold.
Medics and research assistants at the KCCR, one of the only two centres for isolating and testing for the COVID-19 Coronavirus in Ghana are however insistent that although no case of the global epidemic has been confirmed in the country, celebrants gathering in these crowded areas should observe the highest sense of precaution.
Speaking to Ultimate News, Lecturer with the Medical Diagnostics Department of the KNUST and research fellow at the KCCR Dr Michael Owusu outlined that the gathering will do themselves good if they kept good coughing and handwashing etiquette while preventing handshakes and unnecessary touching.
He told reporter Ivan Heathcote – Fumador that “the case in Korea was spread by people sitting in a church who were sick and decided not to visit the hospital. They infected the congregation and all of them are exposed now.”
He expressed concern, “In Africa, we have a limitation. Our busses, our rooms and homes are crowded and because of that, we must be aggressive in trying to undertake good hygienic practices.”
“Washing of hands can be done by everybody. You can practice good coughing habits by coughing into your elbow rather than doing it into handkerchiefs and greeting others with it. If you can get a good hand sanitizing gel, you can keep it in your pocket and within short intervals you can practice this,” he advised.
Dr Michael Owusu further challenged Ghanaians to be as vigilant as the Nigerian Cement Factory Workers who reported the case of the first confirmed case of Coronavirus to authorities immediately they realized the patient had returned from a high-risk country.