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Sunday, January 27, 2013

The captain has turned on the "fasten seatbelt sign....."

On a recent road trip with the KIA Truck, we were greeted by the usual wide-open arms of the infamous Ghanaian pothole. Now we must remember that potholes come in a variety of shapes and sizes; these include both the smallest scratch on the surface of the asphalt, to the most colossal, earth-shattering crevice ready to consume a minibus in one fell swoop. In some countries, potholes are fixed almost as quickly as they can appear to maintain a smooth road surface for vehicular travel. Unfortunately, in Ghana, pothole repair cannot be taken for granted whether on a public or private road. Here there is an unfortunate combination of poor road conditions, badly maintained vehicles, and exuberant drivers that leads onto the never-ending path of cratered roadways.

In the spirit of aviation, our driver Patricia issued us passengers the friendly warning of "Turbulence Ahead!" prior to receiving our hole-y treatment in the back seats, getting tossed around like rag dolls, a friendly reminder to not attempt reading any books while along for the ride! And thus was coined the term Turbulence as used in describing the road conditions encountered on our journeys. Many of the roads on the airfield are subject to turbulence, especially when the fresh rains help to wash away hasty repairs of the past. With any luck, and a little work, we can help reduce the turbulence on our roads and provide smooth travels for the coming months.

While we might take this turbulence in stride and do our own maintenance on the few kilometers of roadway that we manage, many others in the country are not so fortunate. Dismal road conditions throughout the country are a sad reality of the current state of road transportation in Ghana. This reminds me of my previous experience traveling by bus along the long pot-holed roads to northern region and how arduous and difficult that journey was. A quick visit to the main street of any village reminds us how challenging and dangerous road travel is and why it is so important for us to keep air travel as an option. Trips that take several hours or even days to do by car can be finished in mere minutes in an airplane.

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