Ghanaian Taxis: At least evil is consistent in the world

I thoroughly hate taxis. From living in San Francisco where I simply avoid taking them, to visiting cousins in Croatia and Serbia where they’re the only way to get around, to my new experiences in Ghana where again, taxis are hell. I always used to joke that the reason they are hell was because all of them secretly wanted to become truckers and because they weren’t, they took this out on their passengers, then I found out this was actually true. But it’s the fact that no matter where in the world you are, they will try to screw you whether you are a local or a tourist.
I’ve taken a lot of taxis while in Ghana because they are generally cheap and they are readily available, being about every second car on the road. Also, the only other option are the tro-tros and I don’t trust a lot of those drivers, although they are damned cheap. The experiences have varied ever so slightly, but most all have been painful to varying degrees. Let me share a few:
From the Airport This should be a 5 Cedi ride to the center. If you pop out of the airport and are white, they will immediately try to get 15 if not 20. Ignore all the guys who are inside the airport and go to your left when exiting the main doors to haggle with the “less” annoying guys. I managed to only get my ride down to 8, but when arriving the guy claimed tt have no change for a 10. I felt like hell after the flight and needed to sleep very badly, so he managed to weasel a full 10 Cedi out of me for the ride.
Around Accra I needed to go from the west side of the center to the east side. This should always be a 3 Cedi ride at most. On my first day, one guy picked me up, drove me maybe half a kilometer and told me that it was where I needed to go. I didn’t believe him, but I had little choice given that I didn’t know the city as well as I do know and so I was left about a half hour walk from there I wanted to go. I stopped taking taxis for awhile. Most of the time though, they’ll ask 5 Cedi for this cross-center trip. Tell the driver 3 and if he doesn’t budge, tell him to go away. There was one honest guy I encountered the whole time in Accra who actually told me 3 Cedi from the start. His taxi also happened to be one of the cleanest and he drove quite normally. If I were staying longer, I would have gotten his number in case I needed a longer hire.
Accra Mall This is out past the airport, but it should also be a 5 Cedi ride. Naturally, best of luck in trying to get that. The taxi drivers will always bemoan how far it is and try to get 15 or more out of you. I managed to get it for 8 going out and then the incredible Mac Jordan haggled one down to 6 for the trip back. Another trip to the Mall, Mac Jordan managed to get all the rides back for a group of us to be 5. This of course meant telling a group of taxi drivers who were standing around to “shove it” as they simply would not come down on their prices despite the fact one after another, we all got taxis for a lesser rate. This just goes to show that loyalty amongst taxis drivers is such that they would probably sell another one’s mother if it meant a quick buck.
With the Mall, there is also the added danger of coming back when there is no traffic and the road is quite good, which lets the driver really open it up. I was in one rickety hunk of junk that got up to 120kph briefly, which probably one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever experienced.
Cape Coast I only took one here from the STC station which was way out of town. I have no idea if the price was fair or not, but it was 4 Cedi and he took right to where I was staying. This is something rare I’ve found as you tell a driver a hotel or some street name and they have no idea where it is. In Accra this is more common.
Also in Cape Coast you’ll find any number of taxi drivers who want to take you to Kekum Park. If you’re going just try to negotiate a round trip price, otherwise, you’ll be stuck out there with nothing but the most predatory of guys waiting to charge you whatever they want to get back to town.
Kumasi Again, I only took one here to go meet up with Flo, whose host gave me a ride down to Accra. I had to haggle with the guy, but he eventually came down on his price. Otherwise, there is no need to take a taxi around the center as it is quite compact.
Conclusion Taxi drivers suck. And if you really get taken in by their hard luck stories about how far somewhere is, just keep in mind that if you’re a tourist or an expat, you’re probably going somewhere popular which means that they’ll easily get a return fare and so you’re actually doing them a favor by going out there. Also remember to haggle. I know that for Americans and Northern Europeans, it is often looked down upon, but these guys need to be kept in check. If not, they’ll keep raising their prices and make them out of reach not only for tourists, but also the locals. Lastly, if you are a tourist, try to ditch your luggage as fast as possible. Dragging around a suitcase is like being a wounded animal in the wild for predatory taxi drivers.
Ghanaian Taxis: At least evil is consistent in the world

6 Replies to “Ghanaian Taxis: At least evil is consistent in the world”

  1. This is is good read Miquel, very interesting experiences… for a moment i thought this was the same stereotyping of Africa by the Western media, and if you remember this came out when you were briefing us at bloggers meet up @ Smoothy’s.

    But i’ve thought of it and i think your musings are fairly innocuous and good intended for the common good of all.

    In Ghana, my realisation has been that, its always expensive to hiring taxis for short distances and rather cheaper for longer ones…that’s my experience as a local boy who moves about town often.

    Well for a tourist who can afford a ticket to fly down here… you may not be wrong (by your own economic status) that taxis are damn cheap;that i disagree…they are obnoxiously exploitative. For the trotro’s … yes ! very cheap… and a large group of urban professionals patronise them.

    Utterly i’m shocked you re scared of riding in the trotro’s… oh! em’ that guy in the pix isn’t falling! they do that so well to attract commuters… there’s a link to video i must share with you… about an American student in Ghana who took up that job in Ghana. Trotro’s rides are very enjoyable to most folks, you can enjoyable the juiciest gossips, rumours, debates, arguments, feisty fights, banters etc, we interact easily with other… sometimes when you re lucky someone could offer to pay the fare on your behalf… very common thing here in Ghana. But trotro’s drives this country and i bet you that without them, the transport system would be completely dead and extremely dear.

    well i can also understand the difficult with the address system and how your destinations are not easily gotten… we don’t have a well laid out and labelled navigational street directory… we even ignore the ones that exist and use funny local landmarks that are not dependable… for instance… you could be told to lookout for the ORANGE SELLER on the Left turn, well the day the ORANGE SELLER will fail to turn up… you’ll be lost. that’s the absurd part of it.

    I was an undergraduate at the University of CapeCoast… and at the time we thought it was awfully expensive hiring taxis, there seemed to be a mafia ring at the STC station who pitched high hire fares whenever students came back to school from recess from Accra with luggage… in fact those guys ripped us off… no choice or alternative you couldn’t carry those heavy bags on your head to school. i’m thinking that the fare you paid in CapeCoast was expensive for what i think would be a short distance, unlike Accra they have well laid out good streets and less vehicular traffic.(something the taxi drivers consider in fixing fares in Ghana) take note. Its easier moving about in Cape Coast unlike Accra… there isnt much business going on and quite a compact town where places are well known by most town folks too.

    But its good and i agree that ..one has to consider ditching the luggage as an expat or tourist…. well you know the story… “the real owner will take it from you”

    Long one… i guess this is a whole blog post! cheers!

  2. Yes, you could easily write a response post on your blog with this!

    So basically, in relative terms, I find the taxis cheap. In a place San Francisco, when you factor what people make with the cost of gas with the cost of the taxi, they are incredibly expensive. So, that’s why I was saying that in relative terms of scale, taxis are cheaper in Ghana. This is also true in a place like Serbia where they are much more part of regular life.

    As for the tro-tros, I have two fears. Well, one is a legitimate fear in that the drivers are quick reckless and I saw two crashed tro-tros on my way to Cape Coast and then from Kumasi back to Accra. The other issue isn’t a fear but more of a problem in that if you are only staying a short time, it’s not the easiest things to learn the routes as well as learn where you are in the city to figure out where to get out. If I were to even stay in Accra for just two weeks, I would use them a good deal more in the center as they are vastly more affordable than taxis.

    I think the real point of it all is that I just quite hate taxis.

  3. haha … you should come to Uganda and then you have the experience of taxis in the rural areas.

    Here, there is a common adage in the rural areas that “there is always room for one more”!! At one point, we sat 5 people in the front of a corona car!!! then at the back, i couldn’t count because i couldn’t shift my neck but they were more than us in the front!!! As if that wasn’t enough, more were in the boot!!!!

    Please visit and experience?

  4. I always walk out of the airport and down the street to where taxis coming out of the airport can pick you up. They’re always happy with 3-4 Cedi to the center.

  5. Yeah, I think that’s a good point for anyone who visits Ghana more than once. For a first time visitor it’s all rather disorienting to come in to a new airport and not really know where anything else, so a good number of us get taken advantage of. Same thing happens in the US or Europe at the airports with shifty taxi drivers waiting for those who don’t know any better. Really unfortunate as it’s often the first taste a person gets of a new city or country.

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