Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's a long road to Takoradi...

We had to drive down Ghana’s coast to Takoradi this week for an Oil & Gas trade Show. The highway has finally been repaved and fixed all the way past Takoradi (all hail the Japanese for their donations and subsequent contract win – oh and the Japanese construction overseers on the ground!).

So – you’d think the 200km drive would be reduced from the 5 hour journey it used to be (during the good old pothole days…)



BUT NO! Alas, this is Ghana and nothing can be straightforward. Now since the road was smooth and clear, the trotro drivers decided to take it a step too far and drive like ABSOLUTE lunatics, and consequently there have been something like 60 massive fatal accidents on that road since mid last year. All along the way you are reminded by Toyota sponsored bright red signposts that warn, “Overspeeding kills!” and then list the number of people who died at that particular spot in a tragic accident. One of the signs listed 70 people! Others were 12, 5, 32... and there were many! And you just know that didn’t include the numerous others who were carried away (in taxis) and died at hospitals later due to neglect, inability to pay etc.etc…

So now, as a reaction to this carnage, they have put up 50km limits on half of the highway, and numerous speed traps to ensure you don’t go a kilometer over 50… but mostly the speed traps ensure a steady income for those lucky officers… not to mention the fact that the ‘highway’ was rebuilt right in the same place, running directly through every village along the way, with random goats and unaccompanied three year old kids wandering across….

Also, since the new government has taken hold, the police are hungry and hence there are about 20 police roadblocks between Accra and Takoradi… which are annoying and depending on how hungry the guys are, can be quite expensive too!

Then there are the infamous rumble strips… everywhere along the road you are subjected to butt jiggling, kidney shuffling road bumps – put in to replace the potholes I presume…. All with an aim of slowing everyone down.

The brave start overtaking at every corner keeping me with white knuckles in the passenger seat and gasps aplenty... it seems some people just cannot judge distance or danger! All the while, the road provides enough emissions to choke a nation... cars here pass roadworthy through a cheap 'dash' (read bribe)....

So coughing and cringing and stopping and whinging... it eventually took us 4.5 hours both ways…

Overall the journey is a ridiculous experience of Ghana at it’s worst.
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7 comments:

Miss Footloose said...

I had heard about the new road and rejoiced, remembering the kidney-shaking trips we would take to Till's No. One Beach Resort for a little R&R. Needless to say by the time you got there you needed serious stress therapy and by the time you came home the next day traveling the same potholed road back, your were ready for another vacation. I am sorry to hear that one stressful experience has simply been replaced with another one, but actually not surprising...

Helene said...

wow, looking at that picture of ghana i'm thinking "africa is so gorgeous!! what pretty trees!" as opposed to "what a dump! you can SEE the humidity! that yellow tro-tro is hideous!"

what has happened to me?!

The pale observer said...

Helene! You've become one of those who leave and miss Ghana! They say it happens to everyone. What can I say. Ghana juju!!! :)

Barbara said...

Driving in Ghana... I hate it. My husband wonders why I hate the motorway, and this explained it. Crazy drivers, unsafe tro tros, little old me. I'm glad you lived to tell the tale, but I'm betting you were white knuckled the whole way. So much for progress.

Mary and Sean said...

found your blog today...your photo reminds me of when I lived in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer years ago. The road certainly looks familiar! I had to hitchhike from town to town and I remember the anxiety about being out there, not knowing how long it would take to get somewhere. I used to have to pump myself up for journeys! Sounds like you can relate!

The pale observer said...

Where in Africa did you live? I used to be more brave - hitchhiking in Botswana in the early 90's....

Acai said...

wow, looking at that picture of ghana i'm thinking "africa is so gorgeous!! what pretty trees!" as opposed to "what a dump! you can SEE the humidity! that yellow tro-tro is hideous!"

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