I read that there was a “gas crisis” recently in California. Gas can be problematic in Ghana as well. Every now and then while in my regional capital, Ho, I’ll see a line of taxis at least 2 kilometers long at a single gas station in town. I wondered why all of the taxis were parked in a line at this particular gas station. Later, I discovered that the taxis are in line for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), otherwise known as propane. This is because most of the taxi-drivers in town have converted their vehicles to run on LPG and there always seems to be a shortage of LPG in Ghana.
Why would taxi-drivers convert their vehicles to run on LPG? It’s cheaper to run your vehicle on LPG than petrol. Why? The Government of Ghana is subsidizing LPG to encourage its use for cooking, rather than firewood and charcoal. However, a large portion of the gas is being used for transport rather than cooking. This is part of the reason LPG is in short supply in Ghana. In fact, if you’re unlucky and your propane tank runs out of gas at the wrong time it might take weeks to get it refilled. So you will have to go back to cooking with charcoal and a coal-pot, which is what almost everyone in my community uses to cook with in the first place.
Just because many of the taxis run on LPG, doesn’t mean every car in Ghana does. Most private vehicles run on standard petrol. The “gas-station experience” is slightly different in Ghana. First, there is almost never a line for petrol, even though stations usually only have a handful of pumps. Second, each pump is manned or womanned with an attendant that will pump your gas. You don’t ever have to leave your car. So as long as you’re not buying LPG, getting gas for your car is stress-free in Ghana!