In 2016, the World Bank reported Ghana’s urban population at 54.68% of the total population; the majority of which are based in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Tema.
A typical day in the life of a resident in any of the above urban centres and many others across the country is one of work, school and to some extent recreation sandwiched between lining up at the roadsides, queuing at lorry terminals in the morning and evening to access public transport. There are instances when during the jostle for seats in public transports commuters engage in fisticuffs. Most vehicles that are used for public transportation in Ghana are rickety and injurious to passengers.
The current road transport system is one that is very frustrating; commuters choose where exactly it is they desire to alight. This, coupled with heavy vehicular traffic causes commuters to spend more time on the road than they should – which results in low productivity.
This has been a major concern for governments past and present, resulting in proposals by many for alternative modes of transport to ease the transportation concerns of citizens. The railway system has been top of the list due to its reach and comfortability on long-journey travels. However, due to how Ghana’s spatial planning has evolved, it is near impossible to develop a railway system within the short- to medium-term – coupled with huge investment costs needed to solve traffic congestion and public transport issues.
What is a Ropeway?
A ropeway, also known as a cable-car, is a rope-assisted means of transport. Ropeways are durable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly; and can be built on the existing infrastructural architecture of Ghana to promote reliable and sustainable transport solutions.
They present a unique possibility to begin the application of an effective mode of public transport, which is faster and easier to build and operate than other modes like Bus Rapid Transit and rail.
Ropeways are capable of integrating with existing mass transit modes to solve urgent issues in a very short range of time. They are independent from existing corridors and only require a minimum of urban space, which makes them extremely low-impact infrastructure able to access high-density areas. With a completely barrier-free station layout, ropeways are accessible for wheelchairs, bicycles or strollers, which make them very passenger- and commuter-friendly.
They are much easier to use than most other public transport modes because there is practically no waiting time.
Additionally, the user is presented a stunning view of the city, comparable to the experience of crossing a bridge on foot. This is the reason why many planners refer to ropeways as an extension of walking space. Access to the stations is much easier and they are much more integrated into the public space than underground public transport solutions.
It is by far the safest mode of transportation currently in the world. Since record-keeping began in 1973, only a few fatal incidents have been reported. Properly maintained, ropeways can have an operational life of between 25 – 30 years. They can be purposefully built as a Monocable Gondola (MGD) System with cabins carrying 8 to 15 passengers and a travelling speed of 5 m/s to 6 m/s and a capacity from 500 to 4,500 persons per hour; as a 3S (Three Rope) System with cabins carrying 25 to 38 passengers and a travelling speed of 6 m/s up to 8 m/s and a capacity from 3,000 to 5,500 persons per hour; or as an ATW (Area Tram Way) System with cabins carrying 8 to 230 persons with a travelling speed of 5 m/s up to 12 m/s and a capacity of 200 to 2,000 persons per hour.
Ghana is a geographically diverse country with rivers, parks, mountains, forest reserves and waterfalls cutting across its length and breadth which serve as tourist attractions. A major challenge with reaching most of these tourist attractions is accessibility, which is as a result of difficult terrain and poor road network.
Ropeways offer a very cozy and convenient means of accessing these tourist sites for individuals or groups who enjoy sightseeing. For those who enjoy the paragliding event at Kwahu in the Eastern Region every Easter, ropeways offer a complementary means by transporting people to the top of the hill by doing so in the most pleasant way all year round.
The use of ropeways in Ghana’s tourism sector will open up sites in remote areas – leading to the economic exploitation of their tourism potentials. Crossing residential areas, rivers and existing infrastructure with ease and gliding over every traffic hindrance, the ropeway is Ghana’s solution to urban public transportation challenges. As well as lending itself perfectly to integration into urban planning concepts, ropeway solutions offer scope for creativity.
Riders will enjoy entirely new perspectives of the cityscape, top comfort and rapid connections while using the safest mode of transport in existence.
In Ghana, the use of ferries and canoes are the main modes of transportation for communities that have been cut off from the rest of the country by water-bodies like lakes and rivers. Thousands of people, livestock and agro-commodities are carted across these rivers and lakes on a daily basis – with attendant risks of canoes capsizing, hitting tree-stumps in the rivers. A lot of lives and property are lost on an annual basis on these water-bodies – a situation ropeways can effectively and efficiently resolve by providing tailored solutions across these rivers and lakes in style and comfort.
Ropeways are an excellent choice for material transports. All kinds of materials can be transported safely and efficiently to their destination in all weather conditions.
Ropeway systems for material transportation occupy a minimal structural footprint, and even in mountainous regions are able to cross large distances and major obstacles between individual towers.
They are a reliable means of carrying bulk materials from one point to another. One of the major causes of post-harvest losses aside from lack of storage facilities is the inability to get produce to market centres in time in order to avoid them perishing; this results from the inaccessibility of farming areas. Ropeway technology can be employed in accessing and transporting farm produce in large quantities to market centres in time while maintaining their freshness. This will enable farmers and traders alike to get good value for their produce and effectively put more money in their pockets.
Mineral resources like manganese which are exported from the country are transported by railroad from the interior to ports in the south. This comes with certain peculiar challenges that ropeways can tackle with relative ease. The ropeway is not dependent on schedules and can be dedicated solely to the purpose of transporting the minerals; so, as soon as the minerals are declared ready for carting they are moved – and at very fast and predetermined speeds.
African Cities that have Ropeway systems
- Cape Town, South Africa: The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
- Hartbeesport, South Africa: the Hartbeesport Aerial Cableway. These cable-cars were built for touristic purposes.
- Cross River State, Nigeria: the Obudu Mountain Resort. This was also built to give visitors a scenic view of the mountain.
Those starting their journeys on Ropeway projects
- Mombasa, Kenya: the Likoni Channel project. This will connect Mombasa Island and the South Coast, 1300 metres. Its capacity will be 11,000 passengers per hour in both directions. The trip will shorten to about only two minutes – down from ten minutes that it takes to cross using ferry.
- Lagos, Nigeria: the ropeway will be 12.85 km and connect Lagos Island with both the mainland and Victoria Island. The estimated capacity is 240,000 trips a day, and the expectation is that it will reduce average journey times by as much as 70 minutes
Ghana, having attained a middle-income status and striving to develop a strong economy, will require the efficient use of its human and material resources to engender positive growth. The timely movement of manpower and goods will be an underlining factor in the exploitation of these resources for development. In this vein, ropeways offer the exact means by which manpower and material resources can be efficiently moved in a cost-effective and timely manner.
The introduction of ropeways is an opportunity transport and mobility practitioners in Ghana can contribute to beautification of the country’s landscape, and ease the excessive pressure on roads in our cities which results in their rapid deterioration.
Local authorities can use cable cars to open-up their localities for improved trade and tourism, and enhance their internal fund generation potentials. Due to the very low emissions that ropeways produce, Ghanaian cities can reduce their carbon footprints and in the long run, helping in the fight against global warming and its devastating effects.
Individuals who want to commute in style and comfort will find ropeways their best bet; they will enjoy a traffic-free and queue-free experience, and arrive at their destinations with the peace of mind they left their homes with.
With the above stated, there is an urgent need for us as a people to re-examine our transport modes and introduce new technology that will effectively improve our lifestyles. Ropeways are economically viable and are relatively less expensive to set-up and maintain. Policy and decision-makers are entreated to embrace ropeways as the complementary mode of transportation that will push growth and development of the country further forward.
It is therefore evident that the ideal alternative means of sustainable transport for Ghana is the ropeway.