Guide to Transportation in Ghana

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Despite the terrible conditions of the roads, there are several options to getting around Ghana. Here’s a bit of info on the ones I’m familiar with:

Walking

Due to my lack of regular exercise, walking is my mode of choice. You get to interact with locals, browse stalls, and get a bit of sun. It’s also brutally hot to walk anywhere and I always get to my destination drenched in sweat. It is very important to pay attention while walking. No rocking out to your iPod! Drivers don’t look out for pedestrians and there are very few stop signs/lights. There appear to be no road rules and people drive all over the place.  Not to mention, the roads are bumpy and have “obruni traps” or open sewers that you can fall in. When it rains, there are huge puddles and it gets muddy and slippery. From personal experience, avoid wearing sandals after a heavy rain. Despite being very vigilant while walking, I was already hit by a car. I was at Sunday Market and was stuck in a huge crowd of people with nowhere to move. A taxi also decided that it wanted to go through the crowd and started edging through. I got hit at like 2MPHs in the back of the legs as the driver tried to push his way through the crowd. Obviously I flipped out at him. This is a lesson that drivers here do not care for safety, so you really need to pay attention.

Shared Taxis

Shared taxis are often the transportation of choice by Ghanaians. Pretty much they are taxis that have a set destination and will let you out anywhere along that route. The “shared” aspect comes from the fact that you will share the taxi with three other people (Or more if they pack in people illegally). Shared taxis have set prices along their routes are inexpensive. You can pick up a shared taxi at the side of the road by pointing in your desired direction, or if you don’t know, shouting it at the drivers. Drivers will honk if they have open seats in the taxi. You can also go to a taxi stand and look for the car that is going to your destination (They use portable signs). You might have to wait at the station until the car fills up completely. Note: if you are a foreigner and no one else is getting in the car, it is important to tell the driver that you wanted a “share.” Otherwise you will be charged for a drop taxi (see below).

Drop Taxis

Drop taxis are just like regular taxis back in the United States. They take you from Point A to Point B. Unlike western taxis, it is important to decide on a price with the taxi driver before getting into the car. Depending on the time of day, the amount of passengers, and the distance, drop taxis can be expensive. If you stay out late at night, they can often be your only option of getting home. I usually try to avoid taking drop taxis because of the inflated price. Because I don’t live too far away from the main road, I usually try and find a shared taxi and walk the rest of the way. This isn’t a problem as I don’t usually stay out very late. You can take drop taxis long distances, but because of the price I don’t recommend it. Like shared taxis, you can either pick up a drop taxi on the side of the road or at a stand.

Trotros

I have a love-hate relationship with trotros. A trotro is a large van that holds about fifteen to twenty people and goes to a set destination. However, you can get off anywhere along the way to the final destination. Inside the tro is the driver and his mate. The mate is in charge of taking the money, telling the driver when to pull over, and opening the sliding door for passengers to get in and out.  The pros of taking trotros are that they are extremely cheap and go pretty much everywhere in Ghana. Not to mention, you get to meet a diverse amount of Ghanaians. However, you are usually crammed in with a bunch of sweating people and having to keep getting in and out when someone behind you or next you reaches their destination. Plus trotro drivers seem to be the most reckless. They speed uncontrollably, pass cars around curves, and are generally unsafe. Like taxis, you can either pick up tros on the side of the road or at a trotro station. If you go to the station, you will have to wait until the van fills up, which can take a while depending on the destination. If you are on the road, simply point in your desired direction. Tros will honk if they have open seats.

This particular trotro is referred to as an "Obama." I have no idea why.

This particular trotro is referred to as an “Obama.” I have no idea why.

Buses

Buses go to most major cities in Ghana. They are more comfortable than trotros and are a bit more expensive. Depending on the bus, it might be air-conditioned or have a TV. There are technically set schedules of when each bus departs, but it is hard to find out the schedule, and can depend on how full the bus is. While buses will let you off along their set route, you can only pick one up at a bus station. Buses are a good option if you have a lot of luggage, but don’t want to hire a private car. I’ve take the Mass Metro bus, aka Ghana’s answer to Megabus,  to Accra. Warning: Mass Metro can take a long time. Accra is only two hours away, but it took me seven hours using Mass Metro. Worst Ride Ever.

Ever seen plantains on your bus ride?

Ever seen plantains on your bus ride?

Trains

Apparently there used to be trains that took you to several of Ghana’s main cities. However, this service shut down and I’m not sure if it will resume. This is sad because I really like trains!

Planes

Many large cities in Ghana have small airports in them (Though Cape Coast is airport-less). Apparently you can get fairly inexpensive tickets to travel in country. While I haven’t tried it, using these airports is by far the quickest way to get around Ghana. It might be worth it if you want to travel to the northern regions.

 

A weird quirk about trotros and busses are that women are not usually allowed to sit in the front seat near the drivers. Apparently the male drivers are a superstitious lot and believe it is bad luck for a female to be up front. After some negative experiences with this, I find it ridiculous and annoying.

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