Ghana’s rail transport system has never quite been able to become a fabric of the ordinary commuter. This is largely as a result of the lack of quality, safety concerns as well as the ever deteriorating state of our rail lines. The Ghana Railway Corporation is the body responsible for rail transport in Ghana and is the regulatory body responsible for its improvement and betterment.

Most Ghanaians however are not fond of trains though it provides a whole host of benefits such as expediency and better value over longer distances, Ghanaians aren’t too keen on its patronage siting the unease it brings and some rather fatal accidents in the past in and around the Dome area.

The pressure on our roads has brought up the need to revamp our railway sector and to provide Ghanaians with a viable option to the “trotros” and taxis. This has brought the work of the Ghana Railway Corporation. What are the things they are doing to improve the sector? How effectively are they managing Ghana’s rails? There are a lot of questions that concerned nationals are asking whenever they see dormant railway lines and the eventual “extinction” of trains in our countries. It is true that they are being used to transport goods, cargo and people in places like Takoradi, Kumasi among others but its use as a means of intercity transport in urban centres is primarily missing.

Ghana’s train system needs improvement if it is ever to challenge the main modes of transport in this country and it is the duty of the government to draw up a policy plan to revamp the sector. The Ghana Railway Corporation has come in for a lot of criticism over its inefficiency but the the lack of adequate financing and logistics is not entirely the ideal way to improve a sector as tough as the railway sector. Critics have long called for the Divestiture Implementation Committee to completely offload the railway sector off of government’s hands and offer it to “hungry, vibrant” private investors. It will free up funds for other sectors because in truth, the Ghana Railway Corporation can’t do much with the budget it has so a private investor looking to invest and make a profit is surely the answer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_GMhMYpo2Q

An Old GMDD Locomotive Cargo Train

An Old GMDD Locomotive Cargo Train

Ghana's flagship rail train

Ghana’s flagship rail train

How do citizen journalists using the social media affect traditional media production and how and have the houses strategized to meet this changing trend in mass media work?

 

  The evolution of the mass media can be attributed to the advent of technology that initially sought to improve it but has eventually revolutionized it. The role journalism plays in society has changed over the past few decades; now not the institution that put out information in the” hypodermic  needle” mode to a dormant audience, it is now an interactive platform for the vibrant and discerning audience. This has given rise to the citizen journalist. Defined by Charles Measures as, “Pretty much everyone who has the means to report what is going in the world around them”- This definition therefore alienates completely the exclusivity that mainstream professional journalism may bring. Here, anyone who has access to the means(internet access and digital technologies) can report, period! That is the beauty of citizen journalism; a refreshing, unbiased,propaganda-free,raw,uncensored no holds barred angle to the news. In other words, no gatekeeping,censorship whatsoever.

 The context of the article to is explain the role of the citizen journalist. To understand the traditional media. The effects of citizen journalism on traditional media production and the ever-growing need of these traditional media houses to strategize to meet the changing trend in mass media work.

Traditional media consists of the old ways of disseminating  information such as TV,radio,magazines and newspapers among others.  These forms of media though have been overshadowed by the advent of the social media-a term used to describe the new generation of computerised, digital  or networked information or communication technologies. Examples being internet based fora , Facebook, Twitter and others. The social media can be described as the playing field of the citizen journalist. This is platform on which they are most active, mostly through the use of blogs.

The role of the citizen journalist has been enhanced greatly by social media. In the past, citizen journalists would have been contributors to a traditional media content. They represented simple forms of content(blogs), letters to editors of news papers and fast paced, raw news from ongoing protests or dangerous war zones. They hardly or rarely competed with professionals or their ability to satisfy the audience, but that was then and this is now.  Citizen journalism now competes with its more traditional counterpart for both quality and impact. For example, a blogger’s exposé can shift public discourse as effectively as an article by a mainstream reporter. Amateur newscasts from the frontlines of war or disaster zones even before the first reporter arrives are all clear evidences of how much citizen journalism has embedded itself in our world today and totally erodes the reporter as  “first responder” as was the case in the past. The journalist now seems to be refiner of thousands of amateur talent rather than the man at the forefront himself.

The effects of citizen journalism are more in keeping with the strengthening of the standards of good reportage than it having an adverse effect on traditional media.  Nowadays, traditional news houses are putting out pluralistic, monotonous stories, thinly biased stories that set the agenda to correspond with their pre-existing values and views and not necessarily feeding the audience with the unadulterated truth-And this is what citizen journalism does not do. For example, the recent market fires had little to no citizen journalism angle to it and was widely covered by traditional media and was used as a political battleground in certain sections of the media that had political affiliations instead of addressing the core factors as citizen journalism would have done.

In the past, media houses saw the need to involve an evolving audience in their content without distorting or taking away from its fact-based module. Therefore, there were phone-ins on radio and television. Opening of websites solely for comments and not contribution, and newspapers regularly creating columns for public opinion where it served as a forum for the ventilation of public grievances on usually the most topical political issue. The audience’s choice of content was considered at best “frivolity”. What the audience wanted to read or hear about therefore could only be provided by the audience itself as traditional houses had become, formulaic and methodic in their approach mainly to protect their reputation and to keep the money from advertising avenues coming in. Citizen journalism though is a cheap, effective  option to the mainstream as technology has proven with a reach as wide as the sky and a massive impact ability. This created a financial problem for newspapers, revenues dwindled and people turned to the internet for their news. This brought the traditional media  to a damning assessment of itself and finally the need involve the audience in its content production. Three key questions can be asked towards achieving this goal;

1. How to tell good stories with the use of audience-submitted content

2.How to involve the  citizen journalist in the news production process

3.How to use the digital networks as more powerful platforms and  channels for the distribution of content.

Mechanisms are in place across the traditional media community to answer these pressing questions. Newspapers nowadays have various applications known is most circles as “Apps”  on cell-phones to enhance accessibility. Radio and TV websites are constantly asking its readers to post their own stories and contribute material however “irrelevant” it may seem. Newspapers are targeting a computer-savvy breed of journalists to strengthen their position on the new media map.

In conclusion, citizen journalism has forced the hand of the traditional media. It has amassed so much power that most of its pioneers are being victimised, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and more recently, Edward Snowden(leaker of classified American spy cables) . It has made the traditional media modern, having it part ways albeit reluctantly with their archaic and safe ways of operation. In any case, the two are in a relationship where one benefits from the other without causing any harm to the other.  As media houses are largely now dependent on citizen journalism stories for most  of the content they put out. Traditional media therefore must define its responsibilities to citizen journalists even to the extremes like the hackers and whistleblowers. Their work makes them stay relevant in this day and age of social media. Offering to protect them and assist them, they have to be seen as partners that dovetail perfectly not disruptors of the status quo. Censorship, surveillance and other internet freedoms should be maximized and looked at from different points of view such as the from the viewpoint of the ordinary person whose voluntary work the organization is benefitting from.

 

 

                                                              REFERENCES

1.  (Measures, 2013)

2.  (DeMers,2013)

3.  (Bruno,2010)

4. (Nikkanen,2013)

 

                                                                GROUP 15

Lina Zottor – BACJ 2015148

Nkansah Kenneth- BACJ 2015111

Rahina Doreen Sulleyman- BACJ 2015141

Dennis Obeng-Adjei Opare – BACP2015045

Mohammed Firdaus- BACJ 2015106

Aside

THE RISE OF THE “OKADA”- A LOOK AT THE PROLIFERATION IN THE USE OF MOTORCYCLES AS A MEDIUM OF TRANSPORT.

Ghana’s transportation is has two mainstays. Taxis and commercial buses(trotro). The Metro Mass Transit buses though as hard as the government will try will play second fiddle to these modes unless a drastic change is effected. The two though, along with the Metro Mass buses dovetail perfectly and have long been the preferred choice of transportation for most Ghanaians. However, there’s a new player on the horizon; the motorcycle. Popularly referred to as the “Okada”. This mode of transportation, though a little odd is one of the most patronized forms of transportation in most West African states such as Nigeria, Togo and Benin. Easily accessible and considered reliable in these countries. In Ghana though, Okadas are still not entirely popular with the people, though it has made strides over the past few years in small communities.

A section of riders working

A section of riders working

A most peculiar thing about these Okadas is how quick authorities were quick to dismiss any thoughts of it being considered for our roads and how massively and ruthlessly the police clamped down on it. These actions though have ironically seemed boost their operations. These motorcycles have become popular with commuters who seek ways to get to their destinations and workplaces through the heavy Accra traffic that is becoming a major headache every morning. They come with several pros, such as their mobility and lower fares over long distances compared to the more established transportation modules among others but the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit of the Ghana Police Service has unequivocally reiterated its stance against the use of motorcycles for commercial purposes. Though a law to arrest and prosecute the riders was only passed as recently as 2012.  This law was supported by the stakeholders in the Transport sector, including the Ghana Private Transport Road Users, the National Road Safety Commission among others. Frightening statistics regarding their operations were released by the National Road Safety Commission(NRSC). The findings thought that road safety issues involving okadas far outweighed its benefits or long term sustainability. Statistics such as; 590 pedestrian knockdowns and an average of 7 motorcycle accidents a day which represented an accident every 3 and a half hours are to say the least alarming.

At a bus stop waiting for passengers..

At a bus stop waiting for passengers..

The Ghana Police also passed a damning assessment of their operations. Calling them “disruptive”. They were found to consistently break traffic laws, cutting off other vehicles, jumping red lights and speeding excessively in traffic. The Police therefore decided to clamp down ruthlessly on commercial motorcycle use. However, its advent had brought employment to several thousands of unemployed youths across the nation. How then were these youths going to entirely abandon their means of livelihood? A lot of questions have been raised as to whether this mode of transportation could regulated and controlled and integrated into the transport system of our cities. The undeniably lethal dangers it poses also come with a number of benefits. Ghanaians surely would not patronize it if it did not benefit them in ways they have not known before, would they? Could be made safer as is being undertaken in other African countries? How the riders and their passengers must be mandated to have helmets on before road usage, speed limits, a regulatory body for their operations.

At a bus stop..

At a bus stop..

The battle between the police is set to rage on as a look around can only tell you how popular the Okadas are getting. A trend that is growing on Ghanaians by the day offering relief to frustrated commuters. On the other hand, the police are unrelenting in their crusade against them. It is set to be an interesting one.

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METRO MASS TRANSIT: GOVERNMENT’S ANSWER TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.

In early 2001, it had become apparent that the transportation system in Ghana needed help. With an ever declining rail service, Ghanaians’ dependence on road vehicular transport had created an over dependence that put massive pressure on the taxis and privately owned commercial buses(trotros) in our towns, cities and villages. On this backdrop, the then president, John Agyekum Kufour stressed the need for a mass transit bus system that would not only ease the pressure on the existing forms of transport or complement them but to also in it’s own right provide affordable, safe and efficient services to the ever growing commuters of our country. It effectively took off two years later after the government successfully lobbied to have other sponsors on board.

Though government driven public transportation services may not be a new thing considering the prior existence of Omnibus Service Authority (OSA) from about the late 1920’s before its assets were divested in 1995. What the government sought to do different this time was to not to solely operate the bus service but instead as a way of maintaining its longevity, invite corporate entities to have stakes in the operational issues of the Metro Mass bus service.  Metro Mass Transit provides affordable, efficient and reliable service to commuters in all the major metropolitan and municipal cities across the length and breadth of our country.

Metro Mass Transit Ghana is charged with providing a wide range of transport services to the general public at relatively lower prices compared to other modes of public transport.  It’s importance to Ghana’s rather flawed transport sector cannot be over-emphasized. New settlements such as Kasoa and Adenta have benefited greatly from the operations of the Metro Mass.

The government’s success in the operations of the Metro Mass include free bus rides to and from school for all children in uniform, the opening of branches in Wa and Bolgatanga, the creation of jobs; as statistics show that the Metro Mass Transit Service employs over 3,000 Ghanaians with the number expected to rise as the Service grows.

In effect, the government’s dream to provide an integrated network of scheduled buses and a safe and affordable public transport system that interlinks business districts and residential areas, as well as central bus terminals, villages and suburbs among others is well and truly on course.

The initial focus on intra-city( that is short and medium distances) transport has proved hugely successful and there’s a strong possibility that the government will continue to find new ways of improving public transport.

A bus parked getting ready to take off at scheduled time

A bus parked getting ready to take off at scheduled time

Metro Mass VDL Jonckheere Bus

Metro Mass VDL Jonckheere Bus

A loading Metro Mass Bus
A loading Metro Mass Bus

 

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Driving The Nation; A Look At Ghana’s Two Public Transporters.

Preamble: An in-depth look at Ghana’s transport sector. With a magnified focus on the main forms of public or commercial transportation in the rural and urban areas.

Transportation is an indispensable part of any nation’s development. It involves the movement of people and goods from one location to another. It involves vehicular, infrastructural and operational fields which are interdependent in the effective running of the transport sector. This blog will focus on the vehicular arm of the transport sector.

In Ghana, public transportation exists in 2 main forms, taxi cabs and commercial buses, commonly referred to as “trotros”. Their use though ranges from city to city across the length and breadth of the country.  The transport sector is a vast industrial asset to the nation.  According to The Accra Metropolitan Assembly, the transport sector in the Accra Metropolis alone employs over 60,000 people. Which represents 11.4% of the entire populace of the city. Only Wholesale and Retail trade employed more people than the transport sector. It shows how easily accessible and profitable the sector is. More and more youths are gradually being drawn to the employment opportunities the sector offers, easing the pressure on the government to create more jobs.

A  Taxi Rank

A Taxi Rank

Kaneshie Tt

Taxis and Trotros constitute close to 50% of vehicular traffic on our roads. It is believed that over 70% of Ghanaians use these main modes of transportation on a day-to-day basis. Trotro’s offer a cheaper option to taxis and are usually the preferred option for most. Taxis though offer quicker, less stressful and convenient means of transport.    These two modes of transport practically provide the means by which most of the working public commute to and back from their respective workplaces. The running of these commercial buses may not be unique to the Ghanaian society but the manner in which it is run is definitely unique to the Ghanaian society. The subtle but far from gentle wooing of the bus conductors(commonly referred to as mates) as well as the mannerisms used in informing prospective passengers of the destination they are headed is incredibly creative to say the least. Taxi drivers though, usually don’t need to “put themselves out there” like their Trotro counterparts do though, those working freelance are stopped by the wave of the arm and the destination and fares are negotiated. Taxi drivers at Taxi ranks run by co-operatives such as the Ghana Private Road and Transport Union(GPRTU) have boards that are placed atop of the moving vehicle to indicate destination and non-negotiable fixed fares though these are considerably lower to those working freelance.

The use of the commercial modes of transport though differ greatly in rural and urban areas. In urban areas, Trotros are preferred for intercity movement and short distance commuting while taxis are used sparingly depending on the choice of the customer. For example, most people would prefer to board a Trotro from Circle to Lapaz as it costs less and is easily accessible.Most early morning commuters actually prefer Trotros and most people engage the services of taxi cabs when they are running late or when the traffic is severe.Taxis are mostly used by tourists. However in predominantly rural communities, taxis usually handle intercity movement and Trotros handle long distance travelling. An example is the use of these two(2) forms of transportation in the Techiman municipality. Taxis are used in the city from vicinity to vicinity. Buses(Trotros) are used mainly for longer journeys sucha s from Techiman to Wenchi or Kumasi and others.

It must be noted though that most people engaged in the transport business find it ultimately rewarding. They acknowledge the challenges to the sector but hope to work hand in hand in with the relevant authorities to rectify them.

In what is arguably one of Ghana’s most vibrant and active sector. This blog will critically examine the transport sector in Ghana. Challenges, successes chalked in the sector. Initiatives and policies to improve the transport sector in Ghana among others.

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