One of the things Accra is known for is: traffic. However, traffic in Accra can be something entertaining for the eye because you will get to witness things that you wouldn’t in any other country if you were to be stuck in traffic.
Keep reading to know all the facts and tips on how to avoid traffic congestion in Accra and how to drive in Ghana’s capital without dying trying.
What can happen whilst driving in Accra?
Literally, anything is possible. For example, you can get a chance to shop whilst stuck in traffic. Convenient, right? This is one of the most outrageous phenomenons you’ll witness in Ghana.
This is due to the high number of street vendors you will encounter. It is almost possible to say that there may be as many cars on the road as there are sellers!
Traffic for the locals may be a little more bearable, because they are more used to it, and also because finding their way around the big city is not that hard.
For you as a tourist, businessman/woman, or simply a newbie in town, it can be a little more frustrating and tiring at the beginning and this is why we want to give you some tips on how to avoid traffic in Accra.
Why does Accra have a big traffic problem?
Before getting into our tips on how to avoid traffic, here is a brief explanation of WHY it is such a problem.
- Infrastructural deficits: after driving around for some time in Accra, or even outside of Accra, you will notice that potholes are a big problem. Cars have to slow down, or constantly maneuver to avoid them. In general, road conditions could be better so expect to encounter many other problems apart from potholes.
- Road space: many times, there are not enough lanes. More cars, than lanes!
- Driving culture: respecting “rules” on the road is not something very common in Accra and of course this causes many unnecessary road accidents that of course contribute to the traffic.
- Rapid urbanization: Population growth and price increases, has forced many people to live outside of Accra, far away from the city center which is where most people work. More and more people have to commute everyday back and forth from work.
- Lack of functional public transport: Accra does not have trains, metros or buses (buses are only used to travel longer distances outside of Accra). You will encounter the tro tro which is the local bus in Ghana. This of course increments the use of cars in general.
- Non-motorized travel modes: walking and biking are almost completely nonexistent in Accra. Bike lanes do not exist, and pavements are either in very bad condition or they don’t exist either.
Our tips to avoid traffic as much as possible
Plan your traveling times
As logical as this may sound, being aware of the peak-traffic times and areas is essential. The peak-traffic time in Accra is in the mornings, between 6:30-9:30am which is when almost everyone is rushing to get to work, and during the evenings starting from around 4:30-7pm.
The trick here is to plan your daily movement in terms of route and timing. Have alternative routes mapped out as well. Knowing to avoid very busy roads such as Spintex Road for example, at 9am is important.
Ask the locals
Asking locals who are already very used to the traffic and surely are “experts” in the field, may be helpful. They may tell you the best times to move from one area to another (especially if you work in the same office it may be very helpful as you have to travel in the same direction) and maybe even give you alternative routes that you didn’t even know existed.
The best time is definitely the non-rush hour time, which is before 7am, after 10am, or just right before rush hour, 3:30pm or right after, 8pm.
Try another means of transport
The only best alternative during rush hour is using a bike. It may not be the safest option, but if you really need to get to a certain place on time, it’s the only option. You can find locals who offer their bike services (remember to bargain!).
Buy your own bike
This is always an option! It allows you to save time in traffic and petrol! If you dare to drive in Ghana, check how to convert a foreign driver’s license and learn what would be needed if you want to be able to drive in the country.
Sometimes, avoiding “shortcuts” IS the best solution
The word shortcut gives it away, “this will be a shorter way to cut through”. Well sometimes it is not the case, especially if you are new in town and are still not accustomed to the roads.
Having said this, sometimes the best option is to stay on a main road, it may be slower but there is a guarantee that it will flow. Also take into consideration that many people will use the mind of taking the shortcut as a way to avoid the traffic on the main road. The shortcut ends up getting more packed than the main road!
Use your time wisely!
There are times where simply nothing can be done to avoid the traffic. In those cases we want to encourage you to make the most out of your time sitting in traffic!
Listen to podcasts as a way to stimulate your brain. Call a family member or friend that you never had time to have that call with, now is the perfect time! Create a playlist and call it “traffic”. Fill it up with mood-boosting tracks.