The Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE) on Tuesday, 14th May, 2019 hosted a Stakeholder meeting for the UK funded “Transport Africa” research project. This project is investigating the sustainability and resilience of transportation infrastructure (roads and railways) in Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa.
The project is investigating the use of local materials for road construction in low trafficked rural roads. Field trials in other African countries have demonstrated that many local materials, such as the red lateritic gravels that occur naturally in the ground, can perform satisfactorily as construction materials. They can be used to construct all-weather roads when they are provided with a bituminous surfacing. This means that the existing specifications for road construction materials need to be updated.
Despite the cost savings, as well as being more environmentally sustainable, local materials that do not meet the specifications are more sensitive to water movements into the road than those that are traditionally used. Therefore the research has to identify what materials can be used in particular climate conditions. To gain this knowledge, the project team has installed instruments to measure moisture changes in roads in different climatic regions of Ghana and Tanzania and in a railway embankment in South Africa. The sensors will be able to detect the amount of water penetrating into the road or railbed and the changes in the properties of materials as they become wetter and drier. In Ghana the sensors have been installed in roads at Attakwei on the Asankraguah-Ashiem-Sefwi Bekwai Road in the Western Region and in the Kaleo-Sankana road in the Upper West Region.
The Transport Africa project is funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund and is led by Durham University, the third oldest university in England, which is ranked 6th in the UK. The work in Ghana is being done by Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, with the other partners being University of Pretoria in South Africa and Nyaoro & Associates in Tanzania.
Professor Samuel Ampadu, the project investigator from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, said “This project should also be a catalyst for local research and it is our hope that the Ministry of Roads and Highways will commit funds for local research since Ghana will be the beneficiary in the long run.