Ghana | Off the Tracks

West Africa’s New Hub Pushes Out The Urban Poor To Pave The Way For Development

01 August 2011

ON A HOT AFTERNOON along the George W Bush Motorway in Accra, tractors driven by a group of roadworkers stir up the soft red earth that settles on the windshields of passing cars and trucks across the way. The six-lane road, named after the former US president who granted Ghana $547 million for infrastructure improvements, is scheduled be completed early next year and promises to decongest the choked routes between Accra and its surrounding suburbs.

Two half-built interchanges frame cars moving along the road and the only sound is the hum and grind of motors and machinery; the street hawkers and vendors who used to sell goods on this stretch settled further down the road after the city asked them to leave.

For many Ghanaians, the motorway, like Accra’s numerous gated housing communities, luxurious apartment compounds and its new shopping mall, is a symbol of their nation’s newfound prosperity and development after oil was discovered off its shores in 2007. But for community organisers and human rights activists, the city’s rapid development is coming at a great cost to the urban poor.

Clair Macdougall Clair MacDougall is an independent journalist and writer who currently lives in Monrovia, Liberia. Her work has appeared in the New York TimesVogueNewsweekTimeSternAl Jazeera America, and Foreign Policy, among others. She travelled to Uganda on a fellowship with the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Keywords: urban development Accra urban poverty displacement Ghana railways