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April 27, 2010

Driving in Accra

Whenever I complain about driving in Accra, someone tells me how much worse it is in other African countries. I cannot imagine how much worse it could be.

The first rule of driving in Accra is that you must start with the premise that everyone else on the road is crazy. That way you won’t be surprised at whatever happens next.

Secondly, there is no such thing as “right of way”. If you are waiting for someone to give way to you at an intersection, you may as well get out and walk. If you give someone their right of way, you are likely to be rear-ended or otherwise hit by another car who never anticipated you would stop to let someone through.

The third rule is that you must be able to think outside of the box, or rather, the lines. Ghanaian drivers believe that the lines in the road in Accra are purely decorative, drawn whenever the traffic department has too much time or money on their hands. Three lanes in one direction on a two lane road is the norm. If four cars can fit, even better.

And those one way signs? Totally optional. They are clearly just put there by the police to make your life difficult and can be easily ignored. If the wrong way is the way you need to go, don’t let a little thing like a sign stop you.

Finally, the only thing that may be more dangerous than driving in Accra is riding on a tro-tro in Accra. This is basically a mini-bus or maxi-taxi, depending on where you come from, and it seems that they drive the same way all over the world. These buses overloaded with passengers and baggage stop on a whim, pull out into the traffic without looking and drive at a ridiculous pace.

A tro-tro or minibus operator in Accra
A tro-tro or minibus operator soliciting passengers in Accra

On the other hand, if you think driving is dangerous, just try being a pedestrian!

1 thought on “Driving in Accra”

  1. Hey, thanks for sharing this detailed post about your travel to Accra. I just wanted to go to many places in Africa in a single go. I was wondering if there are any cheap flights to Accra that are interconnected. I get my tickets from Reliance Travels but I don’t know if they will also provide me interconnected flights or not.

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