Who Belongs to The Toll Booth?

Toll+booth

Oh Ghana, how many times must I write of thee?
Apparently, not enough.

59 years free but the seeds planted by our good Dr. Kwame Nkrumah have long died in the soil.
This is no legacy worthy of our great but (very) dead visionary leader.

Outsiders marvel at how “kept together” Ghana is…but the entire picture is lost on them when they are standing on the outside looking in.

Sigh! It’s that time again; when people go crazy, create weird slogans, promise chickens and give us nothing but false hope of a better life.
You guessed right: it’s an Election Year.
Yay Us!

The four-year curse is back again…and it is biting so strong this year.

SIDE NOTE: The weird thing is, I am actually more interested to see if Americans will let Trump rule them as president.

Elections in Ghana have always leaned more toward “personal and group self-interests” than the collective progression of the country.
Companies and individuals who know this, hitch their rides to a prospective party’s wagon…hoping to secure a sizable piece of the pie when the country has been ‘won’. It is a very risky gamble…a gamble some pay dearly for, especially when they go all in and wind up with the losing hand.

Companies fall…enterprises crumble…lives are ruined…but yet, some profit from all of this.

Gosh I hate Politics.

People thrive on politics; they eat, live, breathe and bleed politics, and it is these individuals who will do anything to serve us up so they can enjoy the pickings of a good political position.
Ghana, for a very long time now, has not belonged to its citizens but to these political nutjobs.

It’s not known how they are sharing Ghana but I know one thing every government wants to exploit; Vehicular Tolls (aka the Toll booths).

I have no ill-thoughts towards the collection of tolls in the country. It is actually a necessity…especially when we think about how much it helps the country’s infrastructure.

Under a normal and functioning government, the toll or fee, which is a form of tax, helps recoup some of the cost of road construction and maintenance.

It is a great resource and immeasurable in its potential.
So, what is happening with Ghana’s toll money?

As always, I have a couple of theories but before we dig into that, let’s do some boring (and probably wrong) arithmetic:
With these non-scientific calculations, we aim to find out the average yearly revenue from the toll booths in Accra. For this test, we will only focus on the Tema and Kasoa toll booths. (I’m a hermit, remember?)

Ok, for the sake of keeping things fairly simple we shall assume that on a daily average, a total of 55,000 cars go through the Tema and Kasoa toll booths (combined).
In keeping with simple, let us also assume every car pays Ghc 1 as toll.

Thus, let the rudimentary calculations begin;
Daily Toll                              –                            Ghc 55,000
Weekly Toll                         –                             Ghc 385,000 (Ghc 55,000 x 7 days)
Monthly Toll                       –                             Ghc 1,540,000 (Ghc 385,000 x 4 weeks)
Yearly Toll                           –                             Ghc 18,480,000 (Ghc 1,540,000 x 12 months)

I’ll let that sink in.

-_-        -_-

                  -_-        -_-

                                    -_-        -_-

                                                      -_-        -_-

So, across only Tema and Kasoa toll booths, Accra churns out a respectable Ghc 18,480,000 ($4,643,000).
No matter how you slice it, that is a lot of money…from only two toll booths.

Online resources for public information in Ghana are sorely lacking…because no one cares to put public information online.
What you do find, if you find anything at all, is severely outdated information;
If Ghana had a little over 10 toll booths in 2010, then I guess we can safely assume our not-so-scientific figure above will shoot up dramatically when we calculate the revenue from all toll booths currently in operation.

SIDE NOTE: If anyone knows the exact number of toll booths in Ghana, please let me know. Not that it’s going to make much of a difference…but #TheMoreYouKnow.

So, Ghc 18,480,000! Let’s work with that piece of unproven information, shall we?

Now, the question plaguing a lot of minds is: What is the government doing with all that money?

Well they are not desilting the gutters, preventing floods or restructuring DVLA if you were wondering.

My Hypothesis:
The government sits on all that money for a while…lets it accumulate and when the time is right, they burst open the piggybank and use all that money for election campaigns.

Road Money” becomes “Election Money”.

I believe it has now become an unwritten law amongst ruling parties.
If not, how can we make Ghc 18,480,000 a year and not see great improvements on our roads?

“But hey! The government is currently constructing interchanges and expanding on roads…so maybe that’s where the money ends up.”

Wrong! Ghana almost never funds these projects herself. It’s always an outside force pulling the strings.
Thus, all that money is at the mercy of the government and since they never really give us specifics on money usage/spoilage, it’s basically a guessing game…and I have guessed mine.

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But for all intents and purposes, this post isn’t about where the Ghc 18,480,000 ends up but the people who collect the money; the toll collectors.

During my normal commute to work, which sends me through the Kasoa toll booth, I have realized that some of the toll collectors are either not happy with working conditions or they just hate being there.

That is a normal occurrence in the realm of working…especially when the individual has monotonous work. It affects a lot of people.

Yeah even pornstars. Shocking right??

…but I have a question; who best fits the role as a toll collector?
One would assume it is a job for anybody…but far from it.

If, in some cases, the nature of a job determines the prospective worker, then is it not safe to say that a disabled person is the perfect fit as a toll collector?

But that isn’t so.

Think about it;
we are quick to assume disabled people are not smart enough or not well educated…but the truth is, a lot of them are all those things we think them not. We tend to overlook them and hastily think them “alms receivers”.
Handicapped people, particularly those who can use both hands, are more than able to replace able-bodied people at toll booths…as the use of their hands is the most important job requirement.

We scream “equal opportunity for all” only to realize we live in a very broken system.
For so long we have treated the homeless and the disabled like infected limbs that need amputation…but they are people too. They need to be heard and understood but most importantly, they need job opportunities they qualify for.

Let us give them that…and a “purpose” in this country.

At least I will smile wider knowing they helped the government save Ghc 18,480,000…and some coins.

GOD BLESS!

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16 thoughts on “Who Belongs to The Toll Booth?

  1. Its not just a problem in Ghana, but in many parts of the world. Transparency is a huge problem in governments, no matter how democratic they be. And even if a process is transparent(however little it may be), few bother to look. Good thing that you are looking into this, even if it is from a ‘non-scientific’ perspective. Greaat article.

  2. Much of what you write about Ghana also applies here in the U.S., at least in regards to elections and politics. I am thinking that people are not so different no matter where they reside. It is, after all, merely by chance that we are born where we are. Thoughtful, informative post … thanks!

  3. I live in Canada and we have a toll highway. It seemed like a good idea, as you pointed out. Our elected officials SOLD it to a private company so we don’t reap the benefits anymore. Politics!

  4. We may be an ocean apart, but just like you, I hate politics (especially right now!). And you are so right that from the outside (and a few short trips inside), Ghana looks pretty good. Like most places, though, there is more than meets the eye and we outsiders don’t see that.

  5. I’ve never been to Ghana but it sounds very similar to the U.S; we have so many tolls and get traffic tickets for every little thing! Yet the roads still have huge potholes. Lanes are not defined. Signs are falling. Where does all that money go??!

  6. Dear Benjamin,

    Here in the states we like to think that we have transparency in our money usage. So transparent that we see the government take money designated for one purpose and “Borrow” it for another right before our eyes. It is supposed to be repaid, but never is.

    Also, our elected President is not a ruler. He, or someday she, is supposed to serve us in that highest position. That has not been the case for many years. I don’t think that any of us wanted Trump for president, but I have to tell you that half of our nation felt it was under the boot of the elected highest official for the past several presidents. For years our media has driven our elections through opinion instead of just reporting the news and told outright lies to run the government elections and our perceptions of the candidates. Perhaps it is that way everywhere? So, Trump got into the fray and I don’t believe for a moment that he actually thought he’d be president when it was over. And now… here he is.

    Whatever side of the fence we were on here I believe all are in shock! I will give credit where credit is due: Trump is trying to give our country what that half of the nation asked him to accomplish. You will probably only hear the most astonishing of the things he has done, and the major items on his ticket have been fought to death in the senate and house, but he is trying to serve his constituents and making good on many of his promises daily.

    Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address had in mind a “… government of the people, by the people, for the people…” ergo, the president was to serve us. It would seem that some in recent history have forgotten that here.

    I do not know what you see on your news there, but this election has split our country and I worry about tomorrow.

    Your article is well written and speaks volumes about Ghana. I enjoyed reading it and hope you don’t mind my sharing with you about what goes on here. Thank you for your visit today. ~ Lynda

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