Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Traffic and street lights in Ghana - time to go solar

So are we letting all this sunlight go waste like we do for the rains? Plenty resources; gold, oil, diamond, bauxite...SUNLIGHT, yes sunlight! Among the many resources that have come to us naturally as a nation and also by virtue of our location on the planet, sunlight is one that's unlimited and constantly in abundant supply. Why haven't we tapped into this and come out with solar this and solar that? Ooops, I forgot, we use the sunlight to dry cassava for Kokonte, lol.  In 2007, this country was plunged into serious power crises arising from inadequate supply of rain to feed our only hydro-electric dam in Akosombo. Five years down the line, we haven't learnt anything. There are many engineers and what-have-you's in this country, but still..... If you can't innovate, can't you copy? Solar technology is not new, abi?

Traffic light
Living in the capital city of Accra comes with the annoying opportunity to experience all the crazy little hassles you can ever go through in Ghana; from long queues at dawn to board a trotro, to the never-ending vehicular traffic, the waist-breaking pot-holes, the filth, oh yes "efi paa", to systems that are simply broken down. There are some specific traffic lights in Accra that are constantly broken down. One of such is the one at 'Spanner junction, Tetteh Quarshie, the Accra Mall stop off the Madina Road. I have personally witnessed a situation where the traffic lights were not working. So we (pedestrians) had to group ourselves and attempt crossing the road with our hands raised, going up and down, signalling speeding on-coming vehicles to stop for us. Are we policemen or traffic assistants? While watching from the other side of the road at another time, I saw the driver of a new Toyota Corolla trying to slow down for people to cross the road. The driver of the truck behind him couldn't apply his brakes and rammed into the car. So at such traffic lights, you either help a pedestrian or get your car rammed into.

For the past two weeks, power supply has been very erratic in Accra, why? We don't know. In the past eight days, I have had power for just one day!. ECG always tells me their usual crappy "we are working on it" shit, working on it my foot. In the evenings roads are dark and scary. No, street lights, no traffic lights. Just yesternight on the Abeka Lapaz section of the newly constructed MiDA N1 Highway, an articulated driver skidded off the road, turned and fell on the two commercial vehicles. Myjoyonline reported that according to an eyewitness the traffic light was not functioning apparently because the light was off and that he suspects partly contributed to the accident.

Simple question; why can't we have solar traffic lights? Is the implementation too expensive? No, it's proven to be less expensive and cost effective, even if it were, we had money for Woyome, so money no be problem! Is the technology futuristic? Nope, we have the know-how, this is proven and abundant mehn, even individuals have it in their homes. Maybe it's not the priority of the government. Maybe, we don't have a green and environmentally conscious government. Having tree-planting programmes alone doesn't turn you into an environmentally friendly being. Leadership. Leadership. Leadership.

My friend, Kwasi Yankera, wrote on Facebook this morning "In a country where solar energy is available almost 8hours a day, we still depend on unreliable external power to operate basic but important life saving equipment like a traffic light....why do we pay all these so-called Engineers for? why cant they be innovative?? r they appraised each year and how they do get promoted?". Right on the head.

The advantages in using solar lights far outweigh that of normal compact flourcescent lamps or lights. Most solar traffic lights use LED lamps as they are more reliable, more energy efficient, have a longer life span and turn on and turn off quickly. We don't need to care about inadequate rainfall, we are assured of power all year round. What more do we want than a system that's environmentally friendly and sustainable?

Somebody send this post to the president. Have a green sunny day!