Road Trip: Traveling From Lagos To Ghana By Road [Part 1]
The plan to travel to Ghana by road is one we have nursed since 2011. Each time we came close to achieving the dream, something else popped up—one of the people on the team relocates or changes his/her mind. The older we got, the more difficult it became to gather people together for this trip. But Adeola got an opportunity to make hers happen. She told the story on Ventures Africa.
Once or twice I thought of going on a solo trip. But for fear. Haha. As adventurous as I like to think I am, the thought of traveling to Ghana by road- crossing three borders alone- sent me back to the pages of the book I was reading.
But one day, in 2015, it happened. Spontaneously. With a new team.
It started with a dp update on BBM. My friend put up a picture about a road trip.
I zoomed in on the picture and then sent her a message asking if she was interested in a road trip.
Before we knew it, the budget was drawn and a date was picked. It didn’t go easy as a day before the chosen date a personal emergency popped up for one of us. But as quickly as it popped, it was resolved and we were able to embark on the exciting adventure.
Here is an idea of how the journey panned out:
We had only three days to spend- Friday [May 1st public holiday] to Sunday. We planned to make every minute count or count every minute of it wisely. So we set out very early on Friday morning, amidst the fuel scarcity in Nigeria. We booked our ticket at ABC terminus in Amuwo-Odofin, Festac. We arrived there before 7.00am in order to successfully secure a seat. People most times book for tickets days before their trip for better seat options and all.
A few minutes past 7.00am, the bus set off. Before we got to Seme border, we were stopped by custom/immigration officers and a team from NDLEA. To travel out of Nigeria by road, you need to have a valid ECOWAS passport. No Visa is needed for West Africa border crossing. But a valid passport? Oh yes!
The officers wasted our time at the Lagos border. But I understand. They were doing their job. Ensuring no one was smuggling drugs or other contraband across borders.
Finally we got to Seme border and observed the new environment and culture from a distance. The bus stopped for another round of documentation at the border as traders rallied around to sell their goods. We also had money-changers calling out for deals.
The real trip
The road trip began right after crossing the Nigeria-Seme border. As we drove through the small towns in Republic of Benin, it dawned on me how much of a big world surrounds us in Nigeria, yet we never really explore enough. Imagine if there was an academic programme that allowed young Nigerians spend a compulsory semester in another Western African country [I hear those who study French in university do this] but what if we opened it more to other fields?
The city looked familiar yet strange. And the trail of motorcycles [okadas] were almost endless—zooming across the streets like we see in Lagos mainland.
Through Contonuo we traveled. Through the busy streets. Into an untarred road. ZZZzzz. I slept and woke up and we were still in Benin Republic. The untarred road spread across us like a blanket covering an unmade bed.
Crossing Borders by Foot
There was a bit of a dramatic twist to the journey when we came to the border between Benin and Togo.
We were all asked to alight from the bus and walk from Cotonou into Lome. I didn’t imagine that I would one day cross from one country to another on foot. But we did. And sharply too.
So in a long file [along with other travellers from other vehicles], we walked into the busy immigration-no-camera-allowed-zone to get to Lome.
Traders who were eager to sell their goods shoved them into our faces, oblivious of the apprehension of first-time travellers or the unbearable heat from the sun. It was like we were closer to the sun in Lome. The skin of the locals looked fried [tanned].
We hurried on so as not to miss the bus or worse, loose track of other co-travelers.
After we successfully passed through the immigration check, we all got into the bus and continued the trip. Thankfully, we didn’t loose anyone to the crowded border.
The streets of togo opened to us some level of liveliness. Not to be too quick to judge, it looked like Togo was a bit livelier than the other previous towns we traveled through.
The part that stood out during this leg of the journey was the beach party that we saw. A large crowded in uniform gathered around the beach—we were left to wonder what the gathering was about– I guessed it was the celebration of workers day.
Are we in Ghana yet?
Yes, we are in Ghana. The big gigantic wall that separated the two countries confirmed it. And the accent of the locals who pronounced English words differently [more posh?] re-affirmed it.
Again, we all alighted from the bus and those who had big luggage were asked to check it at the border control unit in Aflao, where immigration officers searched each bag carefully before marking it with chalk to indicated that it was cleared and safe to enter Ghana.
From Aflao to Accra took us another two-hours or more.
When we finally landed at ABC bus terminus at Avenor, I was exhausted. It was past 9.00pm-ish Ghana time. That is, about after 10.00pm Nigeria time.
We made it to Ghana, safely. We called our host to notify her that we were in town. We thanked the Lord.
Our journey back from Accra took about the same twist. Safe. Sound. And left us asking for more.
I for one came by refreshed. Yes, that explains the smiles. Or maybe it’s a rub off from always-smiling Lady Azeezat, my traveling buddie.
Watchout for the next post on the key lessons I took away from this trip 🙂 I will try not to make it sound like a click-bait!
Until then, Me daa si, that means thank you!!