This weekend our group traveled to many different places for our last free weekend. A group of us traveled to Accra to stay with a friend and to experience some of the differences that are present in the capital that the are not in the area we have been living for the past few weeks.
The trip to Accra was somewhat different than the short distance traveling I have experienced in Cape Coast. Going a farther distance I was able to notice some of the issues which road ways and their conditions, this is very different than the US. I also got to notice how much of the land between cities, except for a few villages, are not very populous.
When we arrived to the large bus terminal in Accra, we were in the middle of a very busy metro transfer area. The overwhelming exposure to people, and movement, and cars, and hawking was surprising. We took a few small buses, first in the wrong direction then back tracking then the right way, and were finally in the area where we needed to be. When we got to the area that we were staying I noticed very keen differences between Accra and Cape Coast.
Accra almost reminded me of America inside some of the restaurants and bars we visited. The stores, the buildings, and even how people dressed and talked was very different. There was a larger variety of skin tones and even people who were visiting from other nations who chose to make Accra their home. Often times, even with my brown skin, I stick out in Cape Coast. In Accra I felt almost at home.
Besides the great fun we had in Accra I wanted to touch on a point that was experienced in all of Ghana this past week. There has been an extreme shortage in gas and petro that is used for cars. From news sources people were advised weeks ago to fill up their cars. A few people, like our hosting friend this weekend, did just that. Others, like taxi drivers who may go through gas more frequently, did not.
On Sunday afternoon our group was going to return to Cape Coast, on our way back from lunch we chose to see if the gas station close to us had any fuel there so we could drive to the bus station instead of the multiple small buses we took the first time. The attendant at the station said we should only have to wait about 15-30 mins until we could get gas. There were only about 20 or so cars, so we shut of the engine and waited. Over time we noticed that no cars were moving, so there was no fuel at the station yet at all. As we waited longer, more cars showed at our stations and the one across the street from us.
The longer we waited the more hours past. The more cars showed. And the less likely we felt that we were going to get gas. Many taxi drivers lined up at a pump with gallon yellow fuel jugs to collect petro when the fuel was finally distributed. Hawkers walked between parked and stalled vehicles to sell cool drinks and ice cream. We waited and sweated and waited. Our friend who lives in Accra who told us that this has never been this bad before. I recalled on Friday morning before I left for Accra that there were people waiting for gas before I went to work.
I imaged how, or even if, this would have been handled differently in America. If there was a fuel shortage, prices went up, and people went to stations and there was no fuel how would the situation would have been handled. After a few hours, we got petro, enough for our car and the empty car parked in our friends drive way. I was impressed with how many people were going to be there hours after we would be. Some were going to hoard the gas, and eventually the gas which was deposited at this site would run empty and other cars would have to find another place to go.
Due to the shortage we stayed another day in Accra before returning home. In the ride home we passed many cars stopped on the street which didn’t even have enough gas to power their owners back home. I knew that even with the commodities which Accra had that impressed me, resources are scarce. This weekend of fuel shortage was a national issue. Across Ghana the issue with subsidized prices in fuel and the rise in prices for everything increased, even the sandwiches at the guest house. My time left in Ghana is brief, but to experience for a short while some challenges that were present here really opened my eyes to what Ghana experiences often.