Transportation: the Ghana and Germany perspective

At a time where everything moves faster and faster, we also want our public transportation system to bring us as fast as possible to the places we need or want to be.

Though this is a global phenomenon, there are huge differences in how this issue is treated.
In comparing countries like Ghana and Germany, those differences are getting clearly visible.

Starting with Ghana, obviously, the Trotro (commercial vehicle) and the Taxis forms the main stakes of the public transportation system. No matter the time, one can always see Trotros rushing by, ‘stuffed’ with people and mates who continuously keep calling passengers to board though not enough seats may be left for such passengers.

The taxi drivers on the other, slowly chugs down the road while asking prospective passengers to board the taxis.

Beside these car taxis, there also exist motorcycle taxis, carrying a second helmet for their passengers.

What is totally normal in Ghana is far from the reality in Germany. There you will not see any Trotro or motorcycle taxi, no matter how long you stand beside the road.

Instead, in the bigger cities, you use urban or underground railways, which obviously drive always the same route as they dependent on rails. In smaller cities or villages there are urban buses driving fixed routes on a strict timetable, which leads to the fact that rarely every seat is taken because the drivers cannot wait until the opposite is the case.

At every stop, you have exact times when the bus you are waiting for is coming and in which direction it is going, but of course delays of several minutes are possible, depending on the current traffic.

Speaking of such even the traffic rules in both of those countries are different, or at least how they are treated.

In Germany everyone, or most people, is following rules like speed limits, staying on your side of the road and to stick to the borderlines on the streets. There are traffic lines and signs everywhere and if you do not meet them you have to face punishments like monetary fines, additional training or even the cancellation of your driving license.

On the other side, in Ghana, or at least in the bigger cities, the traffic seems to be absolutely chaotic even though, at second glance, there is an existing structure. Hidden behind the non-existing safe distance and the fact that three Trotro are driving side by side on the given two traffic lanes, there are those informal rules like hand signals and honking which are working surprisingly well.

As earlier mentioned, taxis in Ghana are basically everywhere where as in Germany you can see them only every now and then. Reasons for that are the well-developed transport network and the fact that taking a taxi is quite expensive. Just in cases in which any other option would be even more expensive, the taxi is used.

A good alternative in Ghana is the usage of Uber, a ridesharing, taxi and transportation network where you can order private drivers by app. This comfortable way of transportation is since a few years prohibited in Germany, as Uber does not meet the high standards of public transportation. To be allowed to work in this business it is necessary to have licenses and to pass several exams.

Highspeed trains are the usual way of travelling long distances in Germany because they are simple and comfortable. Within 10 hours you are able to travel across the whole country from north to south. A less expensive way for distances of this size is travelling by long-distance coaches however the same distance would take you around 17 hours.

This stays in contrast to Ghana where a few trains exist but which are only used for goods and not as passenger service. Therefore, the long-distance routes are traveled by coaches or Trotro.

Only when you travel by plane there are no huge differences between Ghana and Germany. Domestic flights as well as international flights are possible.
Either way the most important thing is that you reach your destiny, no matter if by plane, train or Uber.

By Merlin Korb and Tabea Marte