Africa

The previous update of the Tour.

28.12.97 Sun (172)

The daily life was a little bit more difficult as there were problems with electricity delivery. But now there was gasoline available again!

29.12. Mon (173) Accra

I bought a traffic insurance for the bike. For two months it cost 208,000 cedis (90 USD). Expensive fun. Before, I asked the prices in another insurance company: they couldn't tell what it would cover! Also their methods were quite ancient. Anyway, the other company was modern.

31.12.97 Wed (175) Accra Ho

My purpose was to visit a friend at town of Ho. I had met him and his family on my previous visit in Ghana in 1996.

Sceneries on the way:
  • Local shop
  • Crossroads
  • Volta river

    But I couldn't anymore remember exactly where they lived! And in West African countries people don't have street addresses but only postal boxes. So, I had to ask from local people. Finally I found them.

    We were the most happy to meet again! I met Emmanuel Agbeti and his wife Patience at their home, after more than one year.
    Emmanuel Agbeti with his wife Patience.
    They offered me dinner, Akple and place to stay overnight! Akple is one of the most traditional cuisines in the Eastern region of Ghana.

    Because it was the New Year's Eve, and as Ghanaians are quite religious people, they went to church in the evening. The Ghanaian worship differs quite a lot from that in Finland. In Ghana that is more cheerful and happy occasion. The music can be played by electric organs or drums. And dancing. But there is not as much devotion as for example in that in Finland (as I remember after many years :) It is like a concert, it seemed to me.

    I was very tired and almost fell asleep during the worship... Some boys started to bang the rockets and bombs and made noise, so it kept me awake :)

    1.1.1998 Thu (176) Ho

    NEW YEAR ON TOUR :)
    As Emmanuel was quite a religious man, he wanted to go to the New Year's worship, but I decided to go and have some sightseeing and visit a mountain, by my bike. We went together with a family member to the Gemi mountain. It is near to the border of Togo. The hill peak was about 700 metres above sea level.

    2.1. Fri (177) Ho Kpetoe (Togo) Ho

    We visited Emmanuel's sister at Kpetoe. The people were the most kind and polite in the rural areas, outside Accra. The village was just at the border of Togo, but the border is not so controlled there. Actually Togoans and East Ghanaians are ethnically the same people. They speak Ewe language.

    A street in Ho.

    3.1. Sat (178) Ho

    We visited a wedding of their friend. Ghanaian wedding ceremony usually isn't so formal occasion.

    6.1. Tue (181) Accra

    Living in Accra starts to feel like ordinary, normal life. I thought I had got used to the way of life in a tropical city of an African country.

    Next thing was to find the Finnish Embassy. That was necessary because my passport was becoming full of visas and every kind of stamps. I needed some 30 additional pages to my old passport or a new one. In Accra, the searching of the embassy took the whole morning. Accra is not that big city, but asking from several places takes time.

    Finally I found it! Well, it was closed, as they were moving to another address... Next day they were opening the office at Hotel Shangri-La. I met also a Finnish couple on the road! There are not many Finns in Ghana or in West Africa, I guess. They invited me to visit their office, Ghanira Ltd.

    Mr. Pekka Pyykönen works for Ghanira Ltd. as the managing director. In the company they make high-quality, low-maintenance 'Nira' water pumps. Ghanira is a subsidiary of a Finnish company Vammalan Konepaja.

    7.1. Wed (182) Accra

    I went to the just-opened Consulate of Finland. The consul, Mrs. Mary Berko received my application for a new passport, as to Finnish passports it's not possible to obtain additional pages.

    8.1. Thu (183) Accra

    As my Ghanaian visa was only for 30 days, I had to apply for an extension for it. That was done at the Immigration Office Headquarters. I was unaware what problem would arise... They said I would get the visa extension "in 15 days".

    9.1. Fri (184) Accra

    Surfing. Not windsurfing in the sea, but Internet surfing at NCS, a Ghanaian internet provider. They had the best access to the net and also the cheapest prices. One hour cost 5000 cedis (2.1 USD).

    10.1. Sat (185) Accra

    I visited at Pekka's and Riitta's place as I was invited. We had sauna bath. For the first time on tour a proper, Finnish sauna bath!! Great!!! We had some beer also. Very nice. We had a nice evening. I had met nice people. Pekka told about his experiences in East Africa as he had worked there in water pump projects for many years (for Tanira Ltd).

    14.1. Wed (189) Accra

    Nothing special. I withdrew just one million cedis (lots of paper, equal to 450 USD) from Barclays bank. One million was two inches thick pack of bank bills. Never had that 'much' money. I felt rich, hehe.

    15.1. Thu (190) Accra

    Visit at consulate: It would take 3 to 4 weeks for the new passport to arrive from Finland, via Embassy of Lagos.

    As I was thinking to continue in the future by road towards Central Africa, I wanted to know the latest and the most reliable information about the security matters there. A delegation was coming to Accra from Finland for some negotiations and also the Ambassador of the Embassy of Finland from Lagos, Nigeria. That might have been an excellent opportunity to get valuable information from the ambassador, I thought...

    16.1. Fri (191) Accra

    In the evening electricity was down again. It wasn't because of a technical failure, but because of low water level in Volta Lake. As electricity is very cheap in Ghana, people waste it. The Akosombo dam is the very only power supply for the country, so power had to be regulated. I learned that later. The outages came without any notifications in newspapers or anywhere. Usual thing here. Problems are swept under the carpet.

    They cut the power for many hours, usually for half a day. That could be harmful for factories, the production would suffer from that. Also lacking of power may cause more crime as there are no lights in some areas in the night.

    It is also the same thing with gasoline (petrol). It is the cheapest in Ghana of the West African countries. People waste gasoline. For example in Mali or Morocco one litre costs more than twice as much as in Ghana.

    17.1. Sat (192) Accra/Nungua

    I visited Coco beach. I had heard it is a meeting point for the overlander trucks before they go to the Central Africa. I went to check if there was anyone. Yes, there were! About 30 people going by two trucks to the East. I met also my friend from New Zealand, Paul Te Titaha whom I had met in Nouadhibou. Nice to see again.

    21.1. Wed (196) Accra

    I visited Coco beach again. Now there were four trucks!!! LOTS of tourists going across the continent!

    The consul of Finland told me, it's not possible to meet the ambassador, nor to have a short conversation. Mr. Hannu Ripatti, The Ambassador of Finland seemed to be Very Important Person! Thanks... Sucks.

    22.1. Thu (197) Accra

    I started to check, how is it possible to register my bike in Ghana. That procedure was obligatory to do sooner or later during the tour as my bike was tax-free and the registration was only temporary. I searched the Automobile Club of Ghana (premises). Actually that office wasn't in operation anymore. That's it.

    23.1. Fri (198) Accra/Nungua

    At Coco beach I met a nice couple from Belgium. They were riding with their BMW 800 GS. They thought to go by ship from Tema to Valvis Bay, Namibia. As they rode two-on, the bad roads of the rainforest would have been too difficult for them. Also very difficult for me, I thought. They said the shipping would be 1800 USD! Incredible price! $300-500 would be a proper price for that.

    My passport had been 15 days in the Immigration Office. The visa extension wasn't ready even yet!!

    26.1. Mon (201) Accra

    I heard from other travellers that it wouldn't be possible to obtain the Nigerian visa from the embassy in Ghana. That was really unpleasant information!

    So, I thought to send my passport (if I get it first out from the Immigration :( as soon as possible to Nigerian embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. What a difficulty.

    I started the registration of the bike. I'll tell it by detail so you can see how bureaucratic the life can be in Africa. Or skip this part!!! It is a loooong story.

    CUSTOMS & REGISTRATION A MOTORCYCLE IN GHANA.
    Here we go!
    ----------------------------------------------
    1st registration day:
    1) Visiting the licence office to get the information about registering. They told to go first to the customs in the area of Ministries.

    27.1. Tue (202) Accra

    2nd registration day:
    2) Visiting the Valuation Office at customs/Ministries. They were helpful at the office, but it was quite unefficient. Lots of dusty stacks of paper. They told me to go next to the importer of Suzuki to get a document telling year of manufacture and the value.

    I heard that motorcycles are TAX-FREE in Ghana!! Great information! In some other country I would have to pay 1,000 USD of tax - minimum - I guess. "Non-attractive items", as they said (meaning tax-free). For me motorcycles are attractive items :)

    3) I went to Rana Motors, the Ghanaian Suzuki importer. The sales manager was very interested of my tour. But as they import mopeds of only 90 and 100 cc, their information of DR800 was what I told them. But I got the paper what the customs wanted. Cost: 20,000 cedis.

    4) Back to customs with the declaration paper. ...they wrote some papers. The costs were for me 500 cedis.

    5) AFGO. It was some kind of freight forwarders' area near the Kotoka international airport. That place was a big hurdle and mess. There I met a 'customs agent', whom I hired to take care of the rest of the bureaucracy, as they said in the customs to be necessary.

    6) Then to their office near the airport terminal. That was called Samtashie agency. They made a little bit of paperwork, I had to pay the costs in advance(!) That was 95,000 cedis.

    28.1. Wed (203) Accra

    3rd registration day:
    7) To the agency to finish some papers.

    8) To Ministry of trade & Industry office near the airport terminal. Actually that was an old barrack. Lots of dusty stacks of paper.

    9) Because it was evident, that to my bike it was necessary to do an inspection, we went with the agent to a certain Inspection Office. That was 10 kms away. In the agency they had counted the value of my bike wrong, so this visit was unnecessary. My bike was worth of 7 million cedis and the limit for inspection was 10 million.

    10) Back to AFGO to continue the 'red tape'. Information was input also to computer. We didn't finish the procedure yet, as their boss had left at home...

    29.1. Thu (204) Accra

    This day was a holiday for Moslems, and so all the offices and shops were closed. I maintained my bike, I had some problems with lights.

    30.1. Fri (205) Accra

    4th registration day:

    11) To the agency. It was difficult to contact them. I had paid in advance, and now they weren't so interested of my problems anymore. It took time to search for the personnel. I regretted that I had given the task to an agency. They had all the papers.

    12) To AFGO to finish my Carnet (Carnet de Passage en Douane, cpd).

    This far it was just to finish the customs part. Next it was necessary to register it to Ghanaian registration plates.
    ---------------------------------------
    >
    13) To the Licence Office to register the bike. Some guy came to look my bike. He had a form where he filled the numbers of engine and chassis. Also the amount of wheels :) Then he said jealously: "This is almost as big as a car!" Amusing. I got the new registry number on a small piece of paper.

    14) In the area nearby there was some enterprises where you could have the number plate embossed. The new number was: GT5683F. Great! All that cost 53,000 cedis.

    Now I had Ghanaian registration plate, but paperwork wasn't finished yet. The registration certificate was still missing. If a police officer insisted it on the road, I would have had a problem! ...to be fixed later.

    31.1. Sat (206) Accra Ho

    I went to visit my friend Emmanuel Agbeti to the town of Ho again.

    1.2. Sun (207) Ho - Peki

    As I didn't want to go to church (almost every Ghanaian goes to church on Sundays), we went with Emmanuel to see his friends. On the way there, the sceneries were beautiful as the road went on mountains.

    At Peki, I met the chief of the village.

    Again at home, at Ho. In the evening they slaughtered a grasscutter (almost like a small sheep). I hadn't ever seen slaughtering. Then the body was burned on a fireplace in order to burn the hair away. After that the intestines were removed and flesh cut into pieces. Then fried.

    In the countryside in West African countries they have chickens and grasscutters or sheeps at home yard. That is quite practical way. There are no supermarkets where you can buy fresh meat.

    4.2. Wed (210) Accra

    This day my parents were coming to Ghana! They were coming for a two-week holiday.

    The bike registration wasn't still finished(!!!), I had wanted to finish it before they would come.

    6th registration day:
    Jumping from office to another. I really got annoyed with the unreliable and dishonest agents. I thought to go to some police station and to pay to some police chief and to arrest the agent and clear this mess! In these countries Justice = Money...

    Luckily the unreliable agent came to his senses and we could finish it, AT LAST! Totally, I wasted my time at 19 offices. Six full days for customs/registration!! I wanted to play safe and ask my friend Pekka to check the papers, before I paid. Thanks for him.

    All was ok, except in the registration certificate the amount of wheels was four (4)! Uh. Good grief! According to it, this is a world tour by car!

    Then I rushed to the airport and arrived only 18 minutes before my parents plane landed.


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