I love trains. To me, they are simply the best way to get around on the ground. In fact, I would like them even more than planes if they had a better method to mitigate oceans. Naturally, when I travel somewhere, I always like to check out that country’s trains, no matter what state they may be in.
Ghana as it turns out, basically has no train system to speak of. They did indeed have a decent train system at one point. It was built during the British era of colonization and it was good. Well, it was good with the exception that it was designed for one purpose: to extract mineral wealth from the center of the country and haul it out to the ports. It was in no way created to actually serve the people. I think that this is one of the main reasons that a great many of the train systems in Sub-Saharan Africa are in such ill repair. Of course, the large introduction of the automobile, led to a good deal of the demise, just the same as it did to the rails in the US.
But Ghana’s system was pretty decent and covered some routes that are highly trafficked, such as from Accra to Kumasi. At independence in 1957, the rail system was running and running well. Then as a new Ghanaian friend of mine put it, “then there was a coup, and a coup, and a coup…” With each successive power change, less and less attention was given to the rails until they just shut them down altogether many years ago. The rails rusted. The train cars fell apart or disappeared and that was the end of it.
Apparently though, they’ve been trying to revive them. There have been some limited transports and restorations on part of the lines. This has not come without its hiccups such as the engine decoupling from the cars and leaving them stranded. There is also the issue that if service were to run to a place such as Kumasi, that would cause a good number of displacement problems as people took great advantage of the flat space where the rails used to run and built the massive Central Market.
People can only hope as fuel prices rise and traffic gets continually worse (the tro-tro station at Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra looks like a bomb went off in the center of a heap of vans) that the rail system will be seen as a must-have in the way of transport, just as I hope this will happen in the US as well.
Ghana, the state of trains