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Accra’s Oxford Street is rich to say: is its green infrastructure sustainable?

Streets constitute important aspect of social and economic dynamics of cities all over the world. Streets connect peoples, businesses, industries and cultures to build sustainable cities and yet they remain the least cared for infrastructure. Even in city locations where streets are regularly maintained or reconstructed, the peripheral edges are oversized or squeezed. Matching street capacity with public use is something experts and policymakers have not been able to achieve to date anywhere. The green component of an overall street infrastructure is mostly underestimated when designing streets. Urban street design allocates little space to green biomes. The Oxford Street, Accra (OSA) at Osu, though, arguably the richest and the second most productive street after Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s labelled Tema-Accra Motorway, is no exception when analysing the disparities of green and physical infrastructure component of urban streets.

So far, other streets have not been identified to outpace OSA’s overall wealth socio-culturally, economically and commercially. A few street outclasses Oxford Street in terms of cultural identity; but it supersedes them in aspects of global friendliness and technological consumerism. Oxford Street and its peripheral communities are heavily import-consuming than exporting. On the basis of what is this asserted? The art, craft, banking, education, telecommunication, food, leisure, eco-cultural exchange and tourism services are carried out periodically or every day.

Oxford Street profoundly manifests unique features, which are reminiscence of British, Asian, Caribbean and indigenous sub-Saharan African cultures as well as postmodernist urban identities incomparable to other Ghanaian city streets. Intercultural diversity is sticky. The closes of the Ghana Police Hospital, state and private security officers providing services to several service delivery businesses along the Oxford Street and its surroundings, apparently, make the zone the best human and property secure street. Oxford Street is somewhat detached from characteristic slum living conditions as compared to other major streets. The activities of child labourers are exceedingly limited.

Amazingly, the price of green commodities such as fresh mango, banana, apple, orange and tomato are not expensive as usually claimed in the face of an emerging capitalist way of doing business and living. The ‘polished’ commodities derived from biogreen items like ‘plantain chips’, chocolate, and local artefacts made from animal wool and wood, however, attract exorbitant prices.

I refer to Oxford Street to mean the stretch of the road from the Danquah Circle (near the Police Hospital) towards the Osu Presby Church. Long the side of the Osu Presby Church, the predominant tropical green plant  of over 10m height is Azadirachta indica, which cool the microclimatic conditions on the street and, thus, lessens microclimatic warming.

The richest street insignia may shift to Kotoka International Airport Areas if the greenness of the Oxford Street is not retrofitted and sustained. The current status of the Oxford Street strengthens its commercial reputation and vibrancy leading to the attraction of regular and casual customers and foreign tourists every day from within and outside Africa. Integrating green and physical urban infrastructure does not require holding  to dominant  leadership and conventional governance of street properties.  It needs learning and flexibly balancing new set of sustainability leadership skills to create negotiated spaces to increase participation in transformative urbanism in which greenness goes simultaneously with other aspects of street design, usage, maintenance and sustainability. You do this you are also addressing bigger climate change, flood and long-term public health challenges.

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