Transport and Driving in Ghana
Getting around Ghana is always quite an adventure for new arrivals. The public transport infrastructure in Ghana is relatively underdeveloped but ongoing work is gradually improving and expanding the country’s railway network.
Driving in Ghana can be just as challenging. The quality of the road network is not on par with the standards that those from Europe or North America would be accustomed to, so expats that do choose to drive in Ghana need to do so with caution.
Public transport in Ghana
Public transport in Ghana isn't very well developed and most people in Ghana opt to travel by bus rather than train. Although buses are more comfortable, both modes of transport can be unreliable and delays are common. Patience and a sense of humour are essential when travelling around Ghana.
Trains in Ghana are operated by the Ghana Railway Network and link Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi, as well as some smaller towns and villages. Trains in Ghana are slow and are not much cheaper than motorised transport.
A passenger service runs between Accra and Kumasi each day, a journey that takes around 12 hours.
Travelling by trains in Ghana is not particularly comfortable and they are not the most reliable form of transportation as they can be subject to severe delays.
There are a number of bus companies in Ghana, but the most comprehensive bus services are provided by the State Transport Corporation (STC). STC has standard and luxury buses that operate over long distances between Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale and the Cape Coast.
Expats should opt to travel on express or air-conditioned buses as these are faster and a lot more comfortable than ordinary services. While buses in Ghana are quite reliable, delayed departures are common.
Travelling by bus in Ghana is relatively safe and quick, especially when compared to other modes of transport.
It is best to purchase tickets in advance as seats on the more popular routes fill up quickly. Passengers are also charged for their luggage based upon its weight, but this rarely comes to more than 30 percent of the price of a ticket.
The fares for bus travel in Ghana are very reasonable but vary depending on the route and the bus operator.
Tro tros in Ghana
Tro tro is the name given to a shared taxi in Ghana. These minibuses run along fixed routes and charge a flat fare for any stop on a given route.
Travelling on a tro tro is certainly an experience. Passengers are squashed into the vehicle along with large pieces of luggage and even items of livestock. Tro tros do not run on any fixed schedule and rarely start moving until the vehicle is full.
On some routes, a relatively new tro tro service called the City Express can be found. These tro tros are more comfortable and have air conditioning.
Travelling by tro tro in Ghana is the cheapest mode of transport. Despite the cost benefits, tro tros have a questionable safety record and frequently break down. Tro tro drivers often work long hours and this can result in risky driving behaviour.
While travelling by tro tro in Ghana is an excellent cultural experience and a great way to interact with the locals, they aren’t recommended for long journeys.
Taxis in Ghana
Taxis are readily available in all cities, but there are different types of taxis in Ghana and new arrivals in the country will benefit from familiarising themselves with what is available. Firstly, there are metered taxis that have fixed prices per kilometre. There are also other private taxis where passengers can negotiate a price with the driver.
There are also the distinctive line taxis with their bright yellow mudguards. These taxis run shared and hired services. On shared services, they pick up and drop off passengers along a particular route. On a hired service, a passenger can negotiate a fixed price with the driver to take them directly to their destination.
If using any form of private taxi in Ghana, be sure to settle on a price before embarking on the journey.
Alternatively, some rideshare and taxi apps have begun operating in major urban centres such as Accra. Local apps include Yenko, Uru Passenger and Enshika, while international apps such as Uber and Taxify can also be used in Ghana. Many expats prefer using these apps as it gives them more control over routes and service prices.
Driving in Ghana
Expats moving to Ghana can drive on an international driving licence for up to a year. For those who plan on being in Ghana for over a year, the process of obtaining a Ghanaian driving licence is fairly straightforward and simply requires presenting a valid international driving licence along with four passport photos.
The standard of roads in Ghana is variable. Expats will find that the quality of roads on the major routes between big cities such as Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi are fairly good. However, away from the urban centres, the roads become dirt tracks and driving conditions can be dangerous. A four-wheel drive is required for those who plan on driving into rural areas and in the north of the country.
New arrivals in Ghana should always drive defensively, especially on highways. Be very vigilant when driving close to a tro tros, as they have a habit of driving erratically with little regard for other road users.
Those driving at night need to be extra cautious because of poor visibility due to lack of adequate street lighting and badly potholed roads.
Domestic flights in Ghana
Flying is the fastest way to travel between the major cities in Ghana. There are scheduled domestic flights two to three times a day between Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi and Tamale.
Antrak is a reliable domestic airline and flight prices fluctuate on a daily basis. Domestic flights are rarely full and it is possible to buy tickets at the airport. However, booking online in advance does save money.