A few weeks ago, I visited Ghana for the first time. Not having much experience as a traveller and passionately craving some adventure, I agreed to travel by land, despite doubts about security and comfort on the road. My doubts came from tales of other travellers who had followed that route and experienced some mishap or discomfort. I eventually decided that, as disorganized and uncomfortable as the ECOWAS route might be, the thrill and adventure of seeing new places, doing new things, and meeting new people makes it worth it. I was going to see the West-African landscape, and I knew I was going to have fun, irrespective of whatever happens on the road.
Anyways, lazy, indecisive me could not chose the transport company to travel with. Instead, I researched the pros and cons of each transport company to be able to make my choice. I wanted a safe, comfortable transport that was not too expensive. Knowing the penchant of Nigerians for extorting their fellow humans, I wanted to know what every dime I was going to pay would be used for. In fact, I didn’t believe any of the transport companies was charging the passengers fairly, until I saw how they settled law enforcement officials on the road in each country. Nevertheless, silly me spent more time researching transport companies than actually preparing for my journey and I ended up arriving at the Chisco bus station very late; around 12:00am. The information on the company’s website says the first bus would be leaving by 6:00am
I couldn’t purchase my ticket immediately, the company staff had closed. I couldn’t sleep; the bus station was a mess, people slept and sat at every corner they could find. A mass of bodies, sprawled on the floor in different sleeping positions spread out before me as I made my way to the room where I dropped my backpack. I wasn’t staying an inch away from my laptop bag no matter the discomfort. After all, this was Lagos. I found a man who seemed in the mood to talk and sat with him. He is a Nigerian who has been doing business in Ghana for the past 10 years. One of the things he told me is that Ghana is far from the Eldorado being painted by some people in Nigeria. Life is hard in Lagos; life is also hard in Accra.
Before I knew it; 4:00am came and the bus station came alive. People began to board buses going to different destinations; Accra, Abuja, etc. By 5:00am, the ticket point had opened. We hurriedly queued. I hurried forward so that I would get my ticket early and follow the first bus. That was not to be, as I ended up following the last bus, which left a few minutes before 9.00am. ‘Business Class’ was written boldly on my ticket but there was nothing business-like about the pre-departure services. Everything was disorganized; piles upon piles of baggage scattered in front of the office under the drizzles, people scrambling forward when the transport officials called out, only to be sent back. The scene can only be described as organized chaos.
Anyways, after several hours of delay and chaos, I finally settled down in the bus. Perhaps, the only thing business-like about the whole scenario was the tons upon tons of goods people were taking to Ghana to sell.
‘Things are expensive in Ghana’, said the pregnant woman who sat beside me, ‘A bottle of La’casera costs 3 times more over there.’
She had been to Accra from Lagos and back 3 times in 2 months.
The bus finally took off around 9:00am.