The Tamale Morning Ride

Being in a new environment means I have to get used to the work ethic here in Tamale. When I first arrived I was the habitual Accra worker who wakes up early to do my morning devotion with my Maker then my morning chores then see the wife off to work with me in tow. We go our separate ways at the junction. She picks a car to work and I do my morning 15minutes lazy walk to the taxi station and take a car to my posting. It’s a 25 to 30minute drive on a traffic free road and the last stop is 20m from the gate to my office compound.

There are no trotros in Tamale and I realized that the only minivans that remotely look like the trotros in the city are all bound for the outskirts of town and the villages. These minivans cart good and market women to the market in tamale to sell their produce and then head back. Produce range of hard items to mostly food stuffs. I will never understand how second hand goods get into tamale especially during the Sunday market day and they are half cheaper than same goods and products in Accra. But that is a topic for another day.

The taxis fare for my destination is usually 80p and the taxis take a maximum of 5 passengers. Sometimes when there are no passengers to fill in for the rest, the wait is what really kills me. City dwellers usually have a habit of not being able to wait and it has been a part of me since I have lived in the city of accra my whole life. Instead of waiting and considering that it is relatively cheap as compared to accra, I just sit in and instead of waiting just ask the driver to drive off and I pay for the rest of the passenger ‘ghosts’. This is relative to Accra even less expensive than taking a ‘dropping’ fare. So imagine me paying for a 30 or 45mins journey for less than GH5. Not on your life in Accra.

However because the out roads are not too good, taxis to my office location (not all taxis) are rickety and not road worthy by Ghanaian standards. I remember the first day I reported to work the taxi I was sitting in could not veer out of the way of a tipper truck and we went under it but were saved only because the truck driver stopped in time. The taxi’s breaks virtually didn’t work and interestingly there are policemen on the way who take their usual compensation every morning for each trip by the drivers.

There is this particular taxi that when you sit in the windows automatically come down when the car starts to move and won’t go back up. One time it was raining and by the time I got to work I was soaked. Window won’t just come back up. Oh and lest I forget, almost all the cars have to be opened from outside because there are no internal door handles. We always get to work with brown hair because the dusty roads give out dust that gets into the taxis from the weak leaking underside and the smell of fuel is always overpowering in the car.

At the office, being a Disaster Officer in a new office that has not been set up means that our job is predicated on disasters. It’s not that we pray for disaster but then we try to provide relief items to assuage the victims’ loss. The residents of the savannah don’t really protect themselves against obvious disasters especially rainfall flooding because they build with no foundation and buildings are usually week and made from weak clay bricks. In the swamp areas such as suburbs like Kobrimago (a reclaimed rice paddy) it is even impossible to have access to your own house if you are not home during a heavy rain. Oh okay I’m digressing again.

There are all sorts of people on the morning ride because my office is located in a village that has just been cut out as part of a new district. Old women who are heading back home after selling in the market would be eating in the car whilst waiting for other passengers. They have no way of washing their hands and coupled with the dust and overpowering smell of fuel in a cramped taxi you have to deal with the lingering scent of food whilst they chatter away in a language I don’t understand.

This is for a direct day to the office or I can go the double taxi route which means I take a taxi halfway and then I wait for one of my office colleagues to pass by and pick me up on their motorbike to the office. I usually do this when I want to get breakfast of waakye in the village before my office. There is usually a long line of clients waiting to buy food and it is tasty and relatively cheap to the well publicized waakye at the Goil Filling Station in Tamale. Otherwise I can also get koko and koose along the same route and that is breakfast on the morning ride.

Gradually the Accra city ethic is wearing off with the realization that life is not as fast paced in Tamale as it is in Accra. There is no need to wake up early to get to work because there is no traffic to avoid to get to work early and moreover the office is now being set up so when it starts, it will still not be as hectic and rushed as working in Accra. We all doing our little bit to move Ghana forward.

Long live Ghana our motherland!

further reading;

http://www.modernghana.com/news/145109/1/rickety-taxis-in-vogue-in-tamale.html

#TamaleChronicles

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3 Responses to “The Tamale Morning Ride”

  1. Salomey Abraham Says:

    I wanna move to tamale now……….and u didnt say their khebabs were cheaper,fatter n tastier

    • Sally if i were to talk about the khebabs and akomfem in Tamale then we will have the whole country move to relocate here and it will become choked like the capital.

      and then what?

      some things are better felt (experienced) than ‘telt’ (told).

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