Who Belongs to The Toll Booth?

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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.

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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!

The ‘ICE DROP’ Challenge.

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Ghana is known for many things…but a country with thoughtful companies?
Better look elsewhere.
We don’t have those. OH NO!!! Not at all.
Some might say otherwise but as they say, “it only takes one bad nut to ruin the nut-sack”…or something like that.

PSST: at the end of this post, I’ll throw a challenge your way and hopefully you will take it on.

I would so love to shoot pebbles at all the incompetent companies and organizations in Ghana but today I want to focus on just one: Baron Water House Limited, the makers of the ICE DROP sachet water.

Few people might know this particular brand but a lot of Ghanaians (…and foreigners) are drinking it, without a care in the world.
To a large extent it’s not our fault; we’ve become desensitized with the over-abundance of sachet water currently on sale…to the point where we don’t check the labeling or if it has even been approved and stamped by the FDA.

We just drink away…because in the end, they are all the same to us.

Now to the few out there actually paying attention; I am sure you’ve noticed something extremely wrong with “ICE DROP” …and if after this ghastly discovery/realization you’re still drinking it, then…ummm…Godspeed.

ICE DROP is indeed unique but for the wrong reason.
Pickup an ICE DROP sachet water and you’ll notice the logo; a drop of water caught in a hangman’s noose.

At first glance, it looks rather interesting and if you switch your brain off, drinking the water would be the next step…but think about it a little more and the questions will start popping up;
why?
Why??
WHY???

Want a taste of moi?

Want a taste of moi?

Why a noose and a drop of water?
Why that imagery??
Why would any sane company even consider this as a logo for a consumable product???
Do they not know the symbolism attached to these elements?

Some elements shouldn’t even be seen in the same frame and I shudder to think of what possible reason they could have for placing water, the symbol of life, inside a noose, a symbol that carries with it decades of terror and intimidation…a tool for murder…an instrument of death…a symbol of pure unbridled racism.

Why oh why would a company do this?
Simple;
1. They have no focus groups.
2. The hamsters upstairs are obese from the lack of exercise and probably watching G-FORCE on infinite repeat.
3. Too stingy to actually contract a thinking artist/designer.
HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Just because something looks good doesn’t mean it’s acceptable…and besides, fusing some elements is a big “No No” in the design landscape.

But how can a company brazenly advertise and sell such a product without any known complaints?
Because the people drinking it aren’t aware or are just apathetic.
They drink it anyway because, “Hey pure water is pure water”.
Ghana is a very superstitious country but boy have we lost ourselves.

This post wants to create awareness so please let it.
If you know anyone even remotely associated with ICE DROP, ask them the meaning behind their logo: that’s my challenge to you.

If you get any info please let me know.
I’d like to know their dumb reasoning…and then blast them some more.

We need to send a message to all the companies out there;
“Think before you do anything!”

It’s time we make them accountable.
We have the rights, the choice and the money they so desperately need…let’s make them earn it.

 

PS: I’ve actually thought up meanings behind the ICE DROP logo and the best one I got was:
“Life from Death!”

Dumb right?
God please have mercy on Ghana.

 

PPS: Sorry for the terrible pictures. I took a shot at an electronic billboard…in a moving vehicle.
Will do better next time. 🙂

DEAR DARK SUBURB, TREAD CAREFULLY!

OOOH…Shiny.

 

I have been meaning to write this piece for a while now but it seems Prophet Daniel Larbi forced my hand. I missed my shot at first place but second place isn’t bad either.

Well then, let’s get on with it;

Dark Suburb needs a pan to the head.

For the uninitiated, Dark Suburb is Ghana’s first rock band. Indubitably, that is a nice feat but one that might quickly fade into obscurity.
I am not making that statement lightly and the rest will think I am just a hate-filled Ghanaian who abhors change but you should know this, I have a very large collection of ROCK MUSIC. So trust me when I say, “I know what I am talking about”.
Dark Suburb needs a pan to the head because it is becoming increasingly apparent they have no idea what they are doing…as far as their public image is involved.

Dark Suburb will probably take offense but I will pull no punches. Why should I pull ‘em back when everything lends credence to the fact that the band is built on a foundation of absolutely no planning, no research and no education. Just plain NOTHING.
The very iota of rock music is all they have a claim to.
Dark Suburb has the crew, the equipment, the “ok” music and then…Zilch.
I am a fairly imaginative person and I can think of many scenarios detailing how they came into being and rest assured, none will feature a smidgen of analytical thinking.
They didn’t have the “talk”.

I’m being highly critical because they are hitting very close to home and I honestly can’t stand it.

I’ve loved rock music since the late 90’s and in my years of listening to that particular genre, I’ve come to realize something;
Even though rock is influencing the Ghanaian music scene, the majority of Ghanaians quickly and unequivocally associate rock music to drug addicts and satanism.
This is a fact I have lived with since I abandoned mainstream music.
It is a not-so-alarming discovery but I will say with utmost certainty that, some of my readers have the same reservations.

ROCK MUSIC ISN’T SATANIC”.

People naturally have fears and Ghanaians are beyond reproach in this region…for good reason: Ghanaians are superstitious. This invariably skews their perceptions on a lot of things; rock music being one them.

The average Ghanaian knows little to nothing about rock music, save for the preconceived notion that any song with an electric guitar falls in the loop. But to be fair, education on the matter is practically non-existent in this country.
The little info Ghanaians have on rock is what they glean from the five-to-ten seconds of screen time rock bands get in movies. The featured bands are predominantly from the Death Metal and Hard Metal scene, playing songs filled to the brim with death growls, heavy guitar riffs, and to make matters worse, these movies scenes contain morbid imagery.
Now, with all these things considered and as far as reactions go, one shouldn’t be surprised when Ghanaians quickly judge rock.

Now imagine how quickly my excitement turned to disdain when Ghana’s first rock band swooped into the limelight with teaser images and video clips employing the use of the aforementioned “unholy” things Ghanaians have associated with the genre.

In their first official teaser video (The Awakening Video), Dark Suburb employed the use of hand-drawn animation which features a wizard/sorcerer reciting weird ‘demonic’ incantations that seemingly bring corpses back to life.

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Visually appealing but illogical.

 

 

Under the direct influence of this demonic entity, these skeletal beings exit their coffins with musical instruments in tow, and are driven by a single purpose: play music for us normal Ghanaians.
Thus, they will entertain us with demon-inspired music.

Now from the average Ghanaian’s viewpoint, this band embodies everything about rock music they have come to fear and hate.

Dark Suburb, you have managed to secure a small fanbase in an otherwise rock-averse country and instead of finding a more palatable pill for the masses, you flipped the birdie and decide to go against the grain. That to me is the dumbest thing since the invention of the DVD-Rewinder.

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Take away the musical instruments, replace them with guns and we have the “Escuadrón de la Muerte” (Death Squad).

 

To top it off, there is the issue of mistaken identity.
Some rock acts in their early years can’t properly categorize the genre they fit in and unfortunately, Dark Suburb is trudging along in that particular trench. Their “High Priest”, who is the band’s leader, says he gave life to his undead bandmates and achieved that through ancient sorcery. They are The Skeletons and their studio The Graveyard.
This description puts the band into the Death Metal category but in actuality, they are an alternate rock band with hiplife and highlife influences.

That ultimately goes to show that the people who make up Dark Suburb are a bunch of guys with decent-enough talents but no discernible reasoning skills.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot…over and over again.

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Why would you dress up like this? A bunch of kids at a costume party.

 

All things considered though, Dark Suburb makes OK music.
It is not great.
It is not amazing.
It is just OK.
That isn’t a bad thing for I believe they are yet to find their perfect form.
So I guess in that area I can cut them some slack :).

Dark Suburb, please listen, unless you rebrand and reinvent your band, you might bloom like the Corpse Flower and wither into obscurity.
Do that or risk being a speck in the ever-growing pool of failed attempts in Ghana.

There is bad music everywhere and in every genre, but rock is the designated runt of the litter…and Dark Suburb jumped head first without a helmet.
If they are willing to shed their current image and think long and hard about the future of their band in Ghana, I am almost certain they will be pioneers of the rock scene in this country.

Rock is great. Rock is awesome. It is awesometacular and as the first rock band in Ghana, you have the privileged opportunity of educating Ghanaians on the sweetness of rock music. “Replacing the bad with the good”, so to speak.

SO DARK SUBURB, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER AND DON’T MESS IT UP.

*THUMPS UP*

 

PS: You’ve got to admire DARK SUBURB’s dedication to their image and secrecy…even though it is very dumb.
They are lucky no one has the time to fish out their real identities.
Ghana needs Paparazzi.