Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Finding Hidden Tracks: A Nation Progressing or Regressing?

Work is preventing me from procrastinating. Or is it procrastinating is preventing me from working? Regardless, I seem to be caught in a befuddling vicious circle.

Anyway, two days ago, we went on a work-related field trip to the town of Nsawam 30 minutes north of Accra . Nsawam is famous for:
  • Being the first large town in the Eastern Region on the Accra - Kumasi road
  • Scary high volume traffic
  • Pineapples. that Blue Skies juice
  • An infamous medium security prison
  • Being the place where trains come from. 
No, they don't make trains in Nsawam but if you happen to live anywhere near a railway track in Accra , you may catch a glimpse of a rusty locomotive chugging slowly past. The train apparently starts in Nsawam and ends in Accra.

On a map I got from the Ghana Survey Department (above), I noticed that the railway line did not end in Nsawam  but seemed to be heading north beyond Nsawam right off the map. Where was it going? 

As we drove along the Densu River in the area north of Nsawam, I wondered "where the @#$@#$# is that railway line?". Finally, a nice lady who took us around one community pointed out the railroad. We were actually walking on it:

 The dead, gone and long-forgotten railway line  

Apparently, in its heyday, the railway line used to run all the way to Kumasi. That was decades ago! Imagine; decades ago we had a railway line bringing  fresh produce from that place they call The Hinterlands into Accra. Alas, that does not happen anymore. Produce is brought strictly by road.

Long abandoned railway station on the old Nsawam - Kumasi line 

This has gotten me reflecting; as a nation, is Ghana slowly progressing or just rapidly regressing?


enyonam said...

Oh Abena.... Love the Blue Skies juice too.

But on a serious note, it is said that the railways in Ghana are not functioning like they used to.. Not only is transportation by rail one of the fastest means of transport, it is moderately cheaper than driving.

And as for the question on whether Ghana is progressing or regressing, my answering technique will have to follow the Ghanaian trend (answering a question with another):

Are you sure you don't already know the answer to that?

Kodjo said...

I like your discovery, Abena! I remember drawing that railway line in O'level Geography class. My only disappointment is that the media hardly does any investigative journalism. So instead of reading about this in a newspaper or major website we have to rely on your curiousity (all the better but not good for Ghana). Talk about regressing!

Just last month Warren Buffet (one of the richest men on earth) bought a railway company.

I predict a scenario where in a decade or so some European will come to GH and buy this railway for pennies on the dollar. Then we'll get jealous they are making soooooo much money. Is that progress?

Raine said...

Lovely picture up top btw.

Initially, I was going to comment on the topic at hand, until I clicked on the Blue Skies link and now I'm totally distracted.

CAN THAT FRUIT LOOK ANY MORE DELICIOUS????!!!! My mouth is watering. I am a sucker for fruit, I can eat fruit all day and not get tired. I'm impressed. This company will certainly be earning my business especially since the fruit comes straight from Ghana and we all know how good Ghanaian fruits are, especially pineapples!

Do you know where I can buy it from?

Ghana_Hall_of_Shame said...

The Ghana Rail! One of the issues in Ghana thats prove our elected officials (past & present) need their heads checked.
Our core strength is agric yet we do not have maintain the necessary infrastructure to have efficient production. Farmers work hard only to end us selling their produce cheap whilst some rot because they are unable to easily get them out of their little farming villages. Yet we spend millions on a jubilee house.
Like Kodjo said, some foreigner will soon buy it for practically nothing.
Yes we are regressing. the sad part is that those we entrust the country's affairs to don't seem to see it.
I think our president, ministers etc should now be given report cards to track performance every 3 months. It worked for us in school didnt't it?


Abena Serwaa said...

@Enyonam: glad to hear you are with me on the Blues Skies! I love your witty take on Ghana's regression. A question with a question! Personally, I am refusing to believe that we are not just stagnating but regressing.

@Kodjo: the sad reality is that you are sooo right. We will wait for some foreigners to rehabilitate our railways while making a bundle!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Raine: Gosh I wrote a loooong response and the internet connection disappeared :( Anyway, thanks for the pic props!
The Blues Skies story is interesting, I heard it on the BBC. They used to produce juices and fruits exclusively for Sainsbury's and I think M&S in the UK but with the impact of the World Economic Crisis, they started targeting the local market with their juices. I'm not sure if they are still selling their products thru those UK supermarkets... I'm also not sure if they are sold in the US. *Yummy stuff*

Abena Serwaa said...

@Mike; well put! As you said, it is surprising since agric is our core strength and the rapid transportation of produce should be a priority. In fact, I'm still wondering how, when and why the railroad was allowed to *literally* rot.

Maya Mame said...

Yes, Abena, I think you know the answer to your question. It is sad to hear all the things we once had which are no more. When my parents speak of the Ghana they knew as children it sounds like a make-believe land compared to what we have today.

On another note, if you haven't already, I advise going to visit Nsawam prison. I had to do it when at Law School and it was a real eye opener in many ways. I wish others got the opportunity to do it too. (Hm...I might have to write about that!).

Abena Serwaa said...

@Maya Mame, Very interesting you mentioned the prison. Have always passed it but never visited. I think it would be a worthwhile visit since I have heard very bad things about it!