Trends and Travel

It is no new phenomenon in Ghana that when one business comes up and it is successful everybody else jumps on the bandwagon and very soon it becomes ‘donkomi’. Lemme try to do a quick throwback to the most obvious ones that come to mind and I think most Ghanaians can relate to.
The first one is the business of travel and tours. When it became obvious that people wanted to explore the world outside our borders, travel and tour companies became plentiful and with it came what we call the ‘connection men’ the middlemen who could get you travel documents without the usual waiting time and the hassle. These middlemen were everywhere and they had ‘connections’ in the various offices associated with these travel procedures and indeed some came through for their ‘clients’. It was always for a fee way above what one would usually pay for the same documents going through the right channels (only to be bounced at the end). ‘Connection men’ were a sure way of getting the travel papers to go abroad.
But what brought the business into disrepute was that very soon there were too many of them and loads where swindlers and fraudsters. Gradually, it stopped being so lucrative.
Let us not forget the ‘space to space’ telephone calls too. At the turn of the century, mobile and telephone technology was getting advanced and cellphones were being introduced into the system. These were not like the cordless phones with ranges we used at home but cellular radio phones. Service providers like Spacefon and Buzz and Ghana Telecom were there to take of the market. They therefore rolled out their services to attract customers. Yeah! You remember some of the promos?
Stalls came up for those who couldn’t afford to buy one to go to these stalls and place calls to these networks at a cost and even sent text messages to call back. It was a lucrative business because one could call and get a handset holder wherever he was since he carried it with him everywhere he went. It was very easy, quick and efficient and also very lucrative. Very soon everywhere you turned there was an outdoor umbrella that became the advert for these space to space operators and this later transcended into the phone card and recharge credit sellers. Another lucrative business has died to copycat syndrome and everybody jumping on to the wagon.
The next one I can recall is the internet café boom. With the turn of the century, the world became a global village and the internet gained ground as the main form of communication and linking or hooking up businesses and business opportunity. People were therefore eager to get online and do one of several of the things the internet provided such as browsing, checking emails, looking for business opportunity amongst a host of others.
It was in this vein that the internet café boom came about. Every street corner had an internet café. Let me remind you that with the technological advancement phones were also coming up but by then they weren’t connected fully to data services and very few had that available from the service providers and very expensive. Internet cafes were cheaper. Oh yes! We had to queue at Busy Internet for well over an hour before you had you turn behind a computer console and when they were doing midnight to dawn promos, the place was still full.
But before long, the cafes became so many when service providers started giving out routers for the service and furthermore phones too became data compliant and that was the end of that boom.
Inasmuch as the copycat syndrome ruins businesses, the people who start it make a lot of money before the others jump in and for a long time they enjoy the monopoly that comes with it. For some of us who have patronized these places, it is good for us because it brings good competition and competition brings down prices.
Why am I going on about this in this article?
For a long time Linda Dor on the Kumasi highway has been the rest stop of choice where all buses stopped over for passengers to rest, have a meal and stretch their legs after being on the road for several hours. Recently there have been complaints about the prices of food and poor services at the rest stop and nobody has paid heed to lest of all the management of the outfit.
On a recent trip from Accra to Kumasi, the bus bypassed Linda Dor and some of the passengers were pissed because whenever you are travelling long distance, you factor in the rest stops so you don’t get bored or distracted. For a comfortable trouble free journey why do you have to buy food (when you are not hungry) from set off location when you can get such food halfway down the highway. So imagine the indignation when the driver just bypassed Linda Dor.
Unknown to some of us, there is a new rest stop opened just about 20minutes drive from Linda Dor which is more spacious and being new has access to the latest technology in rest stop services and management seems to take the comfort of passengers (clients) pretty seriously.
Paradise Rest Stop, so aptly named is spacious and it is an ultra-modern rest stop with fuel pumps, a mart and a food court where one can get all your favorite dishes including indomie, not forgetting the public places of convenience that is neat too. They have a mosque too for our Muslim brethren who will stop over to pray. There are times when I’ve been traveling and we have to wait for one Muslim or the other to finish his prayers before the bus continued on its way.
Paradise Rest Stop invariably is now in competition with Linda Dor.
Now the question to ask is what are the effects? Recently a friend of mine who stopped at Linda Dor noticed the visible change in prices and also the services provided at Linda Dor. The service providers are now more tolerant and are more smartly dressed than before. The washrooms haven’t been neglected for any amount of time (not that they were neglected at first) and furthermore the general atmosphere has changed. Now there is even music at the rest stop blaring through the loudspeakers to sometimes announce which bus is leaving so you can easily check your ticket to make sure that your bus doesn’t leave you behind or you don’t get on the wrong bus.
Competition is good and that is what usually copycat syndrome can do. Honestly I wish there will be more rest stops on the way so that passengers are spoilt for choice and the drivers on these roads are given incentives to motivate them to bring their passengers to these stops.
To the travelers on the roads, it is also up to us to be of utmost behavior and trust the drivers who handle us on the roads. After all for those few hours on the bus you have already entrusted him with your life and you have to assume that he will not trample on that trust you have given him.
Let us also be tolerant with each other as passengers because for the next few hours we are stuck with each other. If you don’t believe in coincidences, make an acquaintance or two and talk about how best to make Ghana our motherland stand out among the nations in Africa.

Safe Travel.
Like I always say
It begins with YOU!

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