Port Authority, New York City
One of the great ways to see the sights and sound of any country is the road experience. I planned to see the country side while traveling the different States of America.
My journey began from New York and the Greyhound experience to Delaware county was great with slight hitches of the bus slowing down because of overheating. From the middle aged pleasant woman who helped me get my paper ticket from the vending machine, to meeting Jamie, the new friend I made while waiting to get on the coach, was great. Not sure if its the State I was in, but the experience in New York is nothing compared to what I received in Philadelphia.
The reception on arrival was plain and laid back at the coach station and a not responsive customer engagement. Perhaps, I concluded quickly, but I soon observed that it must be the way things are done in this State, again, I may be wrong. Everything took longer to happen, at least from my observation at the station.
30th St. Philadelphia Greyhound Station
My next Greyhound experience was on a Saturday, a day after a bad storm that affected the rail lines as well as shut down transportation in certain States, Washington been no exception. The nightmare began when my schedule was moved from 12:30 to 14:30 and the long wait in Richmond,Virginia after arriving at 23:00 and expected to wait until 5:40am the next morning to connect. I realized how serious the situation was when some passengers couldn’t hold it and an elderly woman burst out crying because of the frustrations of waiting. Certainly, been at a coach station for hours isn’t a pleasant feeling.
Thankfully, Chris from the station helped me get on the 1:00am schedule to Fayetteville where he assured me that connection to Atlanta was easy to find. So on arrival at about 5:30am on Sunday morning, I had updated my ticket to depart at 07:35am and even though I sat close to the staff and frequently went to check if the bus will be on schedule, I was disappointed to hear when I asked again at 8:00am that the bus had left! Well, I couldn’t hide my distress and vented out my displeasure to the staff whose responsibility it was to ensure that she made the announcement. While her defense wasn’t good enough, the harm had already been done and I had to wait for the 12:30pm schedule.
Richmond Greyhound Station
Its what happened during the wait that got me not only calm, but admire the leadership of Miss Whitaker, who initially was not my favorite person, but ended up liking her a lot because she took responsibility and ensured that all the passengers who were distressed, hungry and tired, had food and drinks and ensured that she made the necessary announcement to get everyone on schedule to their destinations.
So I guess, the bad experience I had of the transport company always had one person in there whose light shone and exhibited that service magic, giving me a good experience afterwards.
The driver of the South East coach from Fayetteville to Atlanta, was another humorous, pleasant middle aged man who ensured that we were relaxed for the long trip. The trip was smooth without hitches, but once again the craziness at the station in down town Atlanta was not surprising with crowded, weary and anxious passengers willing to get on their buses.
While I will not get on any long distance bus ride via the Greyhound at least not soon, I will consider a bus ride only when its with family and friends and we have to take turns driving, I think this will be a lot of fun too.
If you want a great experience, a bus trip like the one I had, will give you a lot to observe and write about, you get to understand people from different backgrounds and culture. The entire drama at the coach stations and the different blend of people from all over the world is an experience you must have as a tourist.
Please note that there usually are a lot of cancellations if you are riding the Greyhound, so pay attention and always check your schedule to avoid any surprises.
My trip to the United States is a blend of pleasure and business, but knowing me, It becomes more business than pleasure. Prior to my departure from my home country Ghana, I had sent emails to the Ghana mission in New York and Washington announcing my presence in the country and asking for the possibility of meeting the team in the embassy to discuss relevant things. Little did I know that I would be faced with the biggest challenge ever of having access to what is supposed to be my country’s high commission. Do I need any special protocol to access my states people? I am very concerned because if something as common as answering the phone becomes another bureaucratic process, I wonder where we are heading to.
From meetings in New York and getting on the phone to talk to the Ghana mission in New York and Washington, I concluded that the government of Ghana either made very wrong decisions selecting the team that works at the embassies or they have ill trained personnels working there. How do we even begin to talk about trade or tourism promotion when the first point of call, the gate way to the country isn’t responsive?
One of the key purpose of the establishment of missions, I believe is to look out for the interest of citizens, but I doubt if this is the case of Ghana as I have heard most Ghanaians living here complain bitterly about how inefficient the system is and how they have had to go through many challenges to access simple services as passport renewals.
I read on the Ghana New York website a few reasons for relocating to Ghana and it included:
A stable political environment, with established democratic institutions and systems to ensure good governance.
Abundant, adaptable, easily trainable and cost-effective labour force.
Excellent sea and air connections with Europe and the USA
A strategic and central location within the West Africa sub-region providing access to a total market of around 250 million people. A dynamic private sector willing to collaborate with foreign partners. A high degree of personal safety.
While most of these remain true, I am not too sure about how investors can be convinced to invest in Ghana when the first point of contact which usually is the missions are not ready to engage. While these observations are from my personal view and experiences, I know that many others have experienced same and agree that to attract investments, we must be ready.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel this readiness especially with our missions abroad, its almost like people forget where they are, why they are there and the agenda they are supposed to be promoting.
Must it be the case always that we must call in favors to access our own embassies to access information? and even in the cases for some of us that can call in favors, it takes a very long time to even get responses so I wonder what the missions are busy doing and not having dedicated people to come to the phone.
You see, I realized earlier that the challenge is not where Ghanaians are, but its the mindset that needs to change. If you visit the Ghana mission’s website in New York, there is a link to access relevant ministries in Ghana, key to which includes https://ghanaconsulatenewyork.org/useful_links.php
but guess what when you contact the email addresses there? you are lucky if you receive a response. Is it that we are not e-commerce savvy as well, especially in a fast technologically paced global space?
On this same website, one of the very important part of any economy trade, has the website link http://www.moti.gov.gh/home/ not working so I am wondering where visitors should go to to access relevant trade information
Developing countries usually require foreign direct investments and increased market access for their goods and services to help grow their economies, and embassies play key roles in bringing these into the country. We need to have effective leadership in all our diplomatic missions. I am beginning to question the role Ghana’s missions play abroad. So let’s consider a simple scenario of a foreign investor who has heard so much about Ghana, excited about the prospects there and wanting to do some business, calls the contacts online and sends several emails and receives no response. What do you think is going to happen? Your guess is as good as mine.
Information must be readily available and accessible, we must remove all barriers that affects and limits trade in our country and foster ways of creating investor friendly relations. The typical lackadaisical Ghanaian attitude that we import abroad must stop, we must quickly adopt a global mindset of approaching business and development and endeavor as much as possible to be good stewards and ambassadors of our country. We must be meticulous with information we put out there and ensure that people are responsive. I love Ghana, committed to Ghana and will continue to work on my efforts to promote the center of the world. We must all get involved to build something great and beautiful