You should not ever experience the Kintampo Police Escort Caravan. It only happens in deep night, and long-distance travel at night is generally unadvisable. I shouldn’t have had to experience it either, but because of a series of inconveniences, beginning with a driver and ticket seller lying to me about the destination of the car I bought a ticket for, my travel took about 10 hours longer than expected.
The experience of the Kintampo Police Escort Caravan begins with waking up to find that your bus (or in my case, trotro) has stopped at the side of the road in the middle of the bush, in Kintampo—the district in Ghana most notorious for armed robberies on the road. The first-timers wonder why we are making sitting ducks of ourselves, before noticing the other vehicles also pulled over. The veterans hop out to buy jollof rice and jugs of palm oil from the vendors capitalizing on the situation.
The Kintampo Road, 2am
After waiting 30 minutes to an hour, the police arrive with the caravan coming from the other direction. Everyone scrabbles to load back into their cars. Everyone starts off, and the ensuing scene looks less like an orderly security convoy than it does Mario Kart: with traffic going one direction, the cars drive all over the road, the faster ones overtaking the slower. The impression is only strengthened by the peppy hiplife music emanating from the trotros. As an overloaded trotro hit bumps in the road, it would not be that farfetched to imagine plantains flying off its roof and landing in the path of an NGO truck driven by Yoshi, causing it to go into a cartoonish tailspin.
The police leave the cars to travel through Kintampo township on their own. Once on the other side of Kintampo, the bus, trucks, trotros and cars gather to wait for a second escort. I have never heard of a car being robbed while in the convoy. The convoy also likely increases safety be reducing the risk of head-on collisions at night, since traffic only moves one way at a time. It adds about 2 hours to the 5 hour drive, though. By the end of the night, I was very familiar with the Dagbani phrase “Ti chema!”—“Let’s go!”
I have worked in economic policy and research in Washington, D.C. and Ghana. My husband and I recently moved to Guyana, where I am working for the Ministry of Finance. I like riding motorcycle, outdoor sports, foreign currencies, capybaras, and having opinions.