In Ghana just like in any other country there are different ways to travel and move about and these methods have been dependent on the entrepreneurial endeavors of locals as well as governmental efforts to make to make transportation easier and more affordable for the citizenry.
Green Views Apartments brings you the different ways to travel around Ghana.
Since the introduction of cars in Ghana in the year 1902, taxi services have gone ahead to grow in popularity. In Ghana, their distinct colours make them very easy to spot and flag down for a ride. All taxis in Ghana are required by law to have their front and rear fenders (the parts of the car next to the doors that usually have the entrance to the fuel tank) be sprayed in a yellow colour, a yellow number plate, a big sticker with a registration number on the driver’s door and a cap on the roof of the car with “TAXI” inscribed on it.
When taking a taxi in Accra, you can expect heavy traffic practically at all times. This is a very serious problem in Ghana’s capital, so take deep breaths and be patient while you learn some tips on how to avoid traffic in Accra.
The kinds of cars many people use for taxis are usually low consumption cars like Toyota Yaris, Nissan Almera, Daewoo Matiz among others. It is important to know that with the taxi services in Ghana, the fares are not standardized and how much one pays for a ride is highly dependent on the negotiation power of the individual as well as other factors.
These include the time of day, the demand for taxis, the weather, nature of the road to the destination of the passenger as well as the skin colour (race) of the passenger. If you are not good at bargaining well, it is advisable you learn it or let someone else negotiate and hop in when the deal is done.
Informally called troskis by the majority of the educated youth, the Tro-tros are one the most common ways of travelling here in Ghana. These urban minibuses have seats installed in them and windows created for ventilation purposes and come with seating capacities of four people in a row and three people in a row and locals refer them to as 3 seaters and 4 seaters (which are usually Sprinter vehicles).
There is a driver and a conductor (Locals call this person a mate) who have distinct roles. Whereas the driver’s role is to drive, the mate’s roles are to call out the destination for potential passengers heading the same direction to come aboard their ride; to ensure that all passengers pay the stipulated fares, notify the drivers of bus stops where passengers will want to alight.
The Trotros unlike taxis have their fares standardized by their Union which is also approved by government. So before a particular fare takes effect, the government through the Ministry of Roads and Transport gives approval which is also aired in almost all the local news outlets. There are however, some rickety minibuses on the streets which are dangerous and one should look out for them. It is worthy to note that shorter distances are more expensive than longer distances.
With the constructions of smaller airports in recent years saw the introduction of yet another new way of travelling within Ghana – By air. Previously, the only airport in the country was the Kotoka International Airport which was finished in 1958 by Ghana’s First President Kwame Nkrumah and the subsequent ones that were done by other government administrations.
The Kumasi airport became a domestic airport in 1999 and an International Airport in 2003. Other working Airports that are domestic are the Takoradi and Tamale Airports. The introduction of these airports has eased up travel time for those who can afford to purchase a flight ticket and one can now travel great distances in a relatively very short time which maximizes productivity.
The airlines that operate domestic flights are AWA (Africa World Airlines) and Passion Air, which are both Ghanaian owned enterprises. Whiles Africa World Airlines operates in all the domestic airports, Passion Air operates in three out of the four domestic airports. Like all airlines the air fares are not standardized and change depending on demand, competition, oil prices, and duration of stay among other factors hence the air fares vary from time to time depending on the kind of travel. Flight tickets can be purchased online or at the physical location of the airline offices.
Motorcycles or Okada
As you ply through the street of Accra, there is no doubt that you will find corners where motorcycles are stationed and waiting for people who need to their destinations for a fee. The locals call these motorcycle services ‘okada’ – a name and system that has Nigerian roots.
Okadas (Motorcycle Taxi) have been around since the 1980s and have been popular with locals. Okada was taken from Okada Air, a defunct Nigerian domestic airline and people patronized their services because they easily maneuvered through the heavy city traffic and take passengers to their destinations in a timely manner. The nickname then went on to outlive the airline from which the name was borrowed and many don’t even remember the airline anymore.
Not only in the busy cities will you find Okada riders, in the remote villages where cars are scarce, many unemployed youth are attracted to operate these services because it is a source of income for them without doing hard manual labour. Its growing popularity and the spilling off of these services from Nigeria to many other African countries have led to the raising of safety concerns and attempts to use legislation to restrict or ban their services. However, these efforts have not met much success due the benefits people get from these services. Just like the taxi’s getting a good deal heavily depends on your negotiation and bargaining skills.
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Buses are popular means of public transport worldwide. In Ghana however, buses are usually synonymous with long distance travels and they are popular for such journeys. This is the area of transportation where the Ghana government has displayed some level of interest in.
One of the most popular bus companies in the country is the Intercity State Transport Company (popularly known as STC) which is operated by the government of Ghana. The government has tried to run different bus companies whose buses do public relatively short distance transits like the way the trotros do operate however, they have been met with very limited success with most of their companies collapsing right in front of their eyes.
The STC has actually survived against all odds and is still operating on long distance journeys. Most of the companies that ply the long distance bus trade are private and have actually done very well in that industry. Usually these buses are boarded at specific designated station after the purchase of a ticket at the station; and in addition, buses are required for their seating capacity to be filled before they take off.
The buses are usually fully air-conditioned and have television screens that entertain travellers usually showing comic and sometimes satirical movies. More often than not at the beginning of the journey, a preacher man stands up to preach and afterwards solicits for contributions to him. He either alights at a point agreed with the driver or travels to the destination as the rest of the travellers.
When en route, the buses usually alight passengers but do not pick up new passengers until they get to their destination.
Ferries and boats
In a country that contains the world’s largest man-made lake by surface area which covers 3.6 percent of its surface area, ferries and boats are also popular ways of moving around. The Volta Lake is that world record holding water body that connects many towns, cities and suburbs.
For the ease in moving between towns and cities on the coast of the lake, many private individuals have boat services which taxi people across the lake at a fee which is often non-negotiable. Besides, the Ghanaian government under its transport ministry established the Volta Lake Transport Company to operate ferries to transport goods and humans along the lake to the destination towns.
The ferries that ply the Volta Lake have fixed and non-negotiable prices and travel great distances and also have luxury cabins for those who would want to get an extra experience that come at an extra cost. The Volta Lake Transport Company intends that its water taxis will operate from Akosombo (located at the Eastern region closer to the south) towards Yeji, and finally docks at Makongo in the Northern Region.
One thing that is missing is private sector participation in the water taxi industry and this is because the industry is somewhat slow in the absence of competition. There is little to no innovation and vibrancy since the government is the sole player and in addition, Prices, products and services have not been improved for a long while and this has led to the slow decline in patronage.
Vehicles on three wheels are not the exact thing you would expect to see in a nation where 2 and 4 wheeled automobiles are rampant. Developing countries like India and Nigeria are territories you are most likely to find tricycles being used for taxi services. However, this tricycle taxi services started to gain grounds in Ghana in and around 2016.
How did this start? A governmental organization called MASLOC (Microfinance and Small Loans Centre) which had aims of providing micro and small loans for start-ups and small businesses decided on giving the unemployed youth of the hitherto 3 main Northern regions some tricycles to use and better their livelihoods.
Unemployment in the Northern part of Ghana was very rampant mainly because there were not enough businesses and agencies to employ the teeming youth. So these enterprising youth decided to use the tricycles to offer taxi services at competitive rates and with time others saw that people patronized the services and also went in for the tricycles. In no time, youth in many areas and locations in and around Northern Ghana had begun to operate these tricycles and it has even spilled over to the Ashanti and Bono Regions.
These tricycles are giving the traditional taxis stiff competition and hence forcing the taxi drivers to strategize on ways to get customers and survive in the business climate. Just like the motorcyles (okada), some people and organizations have raised safety concerns about them and some have even gone ahead to raise legal issues about their existence and operations. Nonetheless, these tricycles which are popularly called “Mahama Camboo” (Because it was introduced by the administration of the Former President John Mahama) are growing in popularity due to the increasing growth in patronage and its role in reducing unemployment.
These are the major ways of travelling or moving about in Ghana. Anytime you are in Accra, kindly do well to check out Green Views Apartments for amazing services and experiences that you will never forget.