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LIFE IN ACCRA - A Sunday tour in Accra on two wheels

Jan 12, 15 - Comments

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It was not the first time I cycled along the seaside on a Sunday, around old Accra at Jamestown and then west, past where the Korle Lagoon joins the sea, then on the Old Winneba Road also called the Beach Road towards Dansoman and the large natural Densu delta area that extends all the way to Krokrobite. The Beach Road is parallel to the other entrance to the whole area: Guggisberg Avenue where the well-known Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital is located, just west of Ring Road.

That Sunday of the 2014 holidays, a few things hit me, some I had probably noticed before, and made me realize the ride back home offers a lot to see and to consider: bad and good.

Firstly, the Beach Road ends at a large gutter but once passed on a bridge and continuing, you discover that Accra extends further west with the large Dansoman area that ends at the Densu Delta. This whole area along the sea is just particular, with many curvy small streets, quite densely populated and different from the whole inland area before and after that gutter, going north all the way to the new Winneba Road, taking to Mallam Junction and west. See the area on a Google map to understand.

After a tour in this area, coming back eastward on the Beach Road, I passed the couple of beach resorts, such as the NordSee, that are always busy on week-ends, with patrons enjoying the beach and the loud music. As I quickly reached the start/end of Ring Road, I noticed the usual bad smell from the hill over the beach on the right. I entered and found out that the smell simply comes from the sewage trucks that are freely unloading their cargo there. I don’t know how many years this has been going on but they are there every time I pass. Quite amazing. Paradoxically, two hundred meters further, after passing the mouth of Korle Lagoon, billboards inform about a future Fecal Treatment Plant being built by a Chinese company. 

That is where the beach becomes barricaded as a new goat market came up on a semi-hill. It you take the next broken lane on the right, you will find an open-air slaughter area after the corner. Pretty basic and sordid. Luckily, 50 meters further, the 93 feet/28 meters Jamestown lighthouse helps forget what you have just seen. It is supposedly possible to go on top. The lighthouse is definitely the landmark of Jamestown and Usshertown, the oldest communities of Accra (17th century) and home of the Ga people. At its base, a small road takes you down to the beach level and the Accra fishing harbor, the main activity of the Ga people: fairly large, interesting to see and to wander around (in a group only). See aerial views of the area.

Back up, and as the road, now one-way and renamed John Attah Mills Road in 2014, curves around east, colonial buildings can be seen left and right. A few have dates such as 1926. Much older are the James and Ussher forts. The largest is the Accra Central Post Office, two blocks in. Across the now unoccupied colonial CFAO HQ, of a different style is a bare land with a good view of the sea and the coast as well as two bars on the right and left: access the left one through rows of stairs to have a drink on rocks surrounded by the sea.
Learn about the Jamestown Walking Tours. Visiting the area at the time of the Chale Wote Festival can be a good idea

Continuing east and shortly after passing the large brick Holy Trinity cathedral, the colonial-era Judicial complex appears on the left, where Ghana’s Supreme Court is located. Behind is the famous and large Makola market where uneducated young girls from Ghana’s north are paid a couple of Cedis a day for carry goods and pay a few dozen Pesewas to sleep on the floor, a few hundred meters away from the $300-a-night Movenpick Hotel.

Riding along then takes you to:
- Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (with a small museum), created to honor Kwame Nkrumah,
- the Center for National Culture, a large arts & crafts market commonly called Arts Center,
- Independence Square (with a beach behind it), Independence Arch and the National Stadium a few hundred meters further are the last landmarks of this seaside trip that started kilometers ago.
The road continues to the southern parts of Osu after which it becomes four lanes, meets the other end of Ring Road and takes you to Labadi Beach. Stay on and you will eventually end up in Tema, the port city 25km east of Accra.

In Accra, we have a general feeling the seashore is not put in value and it is true. Labadi Beach could well be the only beach expats know but this ride gives a different view of Accra on the sea. In addition to discovery, such tour offers the advantage to see Ghanaians other that your home staff, office employees and sales people in Accra Mall and supermarkets.

I will be glad to take seasoned cyclists on a next Sunday tour.

The Editor


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