Ghana’s roads are among the worst in Africa, causing thousands of deaths and injuries every year. The World Bank estimates that road traffic crashes cost Ghana 8.2% of its GDP in 2016. Road injury is also one of the top 10 causes of death in Ghana, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The poor condition of the roads is one of the main factors contributing to road accidents. Many roads in Ghana have potholes, cracks, bumps and erosion that damage vehicles and endanger road users, especially pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
To raise awareness of this issue, some Ghanaians have started the #ShowYourPotholeChallenge on social media. This is a campaign where people share pictures and videos of the potholes they face on their daily commute or travels. The challenge aims to expose the failure and incompetence of the authorities in charge of road maintenance and construction, and to demand better roads for all.
Some of the posts on Twitter show how severe the situation is in some parts of the country. For example, one user posted a picture of a massive pothole that could easily swallow a car. Another user posted a video of a motorcycle rider who fell into a pothole and injured himself. A third user posted a picture of a road that looked more like a river than a road.
The #ShowYourPotholeChallenge is not the first time that Ghanaians have expressed their dissatisfaction with the state of their roads. In 2021, some residents of Kumasi staged a protest by planting banana trees in potholes to highlight the neglect of their roads. In 2020, some residents of Accra also protested by filling potholes with cement and stones to make them more visible and safer.
However, these actions have not resulted in much improvement, as the road sector continues to suffer from poor policies, insufficient funding, corruption and mismanagement. Some researchers have argued that the root causes of Ghana’s road transport problems can be traced back to the colonial and neocolonial influences that shaped the sector. For example, the structural adjustment reforms imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the 1980s led to the withdrawal of the state from providing public goods such as roads, and created room for private actors to exploit drivers and passengers.
To solve these problems, Ghana needs more than just patching up potholes. It needs a comprehensive and holistic approach that considers the social, economic, environmental and political dimensions of road transport. It needs to invest more in road infrastructure, maintenance and safety, as well as in alternative modes of transport such as rail, bus rapid transit and cycling. It also needs to strengthen its institutions, regulations and enforcement mechanisms to ensure accountability and transparency in the road sector.
The #ShowYourPotholeChallenge is a wake-up call for Ghana’s leaders and citizens to take action on one of the most critical issues affecting their lives. It is also a reminder that roads are not just physical structures, but also symbols of development, democracy and dignity.