How To with security (with a taxi or in a car)
The goal of this How To page is to bring the expatriate community general security recommendations when using a taxi or a car.
First of all, do see our page on the first security measure to take when arriving in Ghana.
For security advice when living in a stand-alone house, please refer to the "How To with security measures (stand-alone houses)" page.
For security alerts and advisories, please refer to the "Security alerts and advisories" page.
Your inputs are highly welcomed. Do not hesitate to write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your feedback is also highly appreciated. Please write to email@example.com.
In general, do remember that safety outside your home is a matter of time and place.
ADVICE WITH TAXIS
Preferably stop newer looking cars.
Ensure your destination is understood and known and clearly agree on the fare before getting in.
Try to know the price of the ride and do not negotiate long. There are many other taxis behind.
Try to carry small notes to be able to pay the exact agreed fare - some drivers do not have or even refuse to give change.
Seat behind the driver or across if you wish to see him in the mirror.
To avoid any risks from outside whenever the taxi is stopped, keep your belongings on the floor. Also, put the window high (and lock your door if possible): men on motorbikes have snatched phones before via the open car window while people were making calls at traffic lights or in traffic.
Do not board a taxi which has passengers unless you clearly know it is a shared taxi and want one.
Do not accept that your driver boards someone on the way and prepare to get off if they do.
At night (it is dark by 1830)
Avoid taking taxis when you are alone.
Make sure the driver is not too tired nor drunk. Don't be intoxicated yourself.
Don't too carry more money than you need and valuables (if you have to, ensure they are well concealed).
If you don't feel right during the ride or if the driver is clearly taking the wrong direction, prepare a fair rate and do not hesitate to say you need to get dropped. Worst case, get off when the car is stopped at a light or in traffic.
Should you meet drivers you like, ask which areas they are based around and take their number so you can use them regularly.
In December 2014, Michael from the High Commission of Canada suggested the following:
"For the taxi security after dark, I have an unusual solution: before I get in, I always write down or take a photo of the license plate and car make and model, which I text to my spouse. That way if anything happens, we know the vehicle. I do the same when sending a friend home from my house in a taxi. I do this conspicuously in case the driver has any ideas!"
We would suggest to send the picture taken as, in case of robbery, the phone would probably be taken.
CAR-RELATED INCIDENTS AND SCAMS
Assaults when car is not moving
There has been several reports of incidents happening when one's car is at a standstill, be in traffic or at a red light, most often with windows open. It is recommended to keep windows up and doors locked when in stopped in traffic or at a red light. If giving money to beggers at a traffic light, do so with a slightly open window.
Number plate hijacking
Hijackers follow you to a parking lot and after you leave your vehicle, remove your number plate and wait. When you come back and drive off, they follow you, then overtake you, displaying your number plate out of their window as if if you just lost it and they want to give it back to you. When you stop to get your number plate back, guns come out and they take the car; maybe even take you and your car. It is a well rehearsed and organized plan and everything happens very quickly. Other motorists may not be aware what is happening as you have stopped the car yourself.
To do: do not stop in such instance.
A device is put on your tire while you are in your bank. After leaving, you stop as your tire flattens and men attack you to take the money. See the report on such incident in Adabraka.
A person lifts his/her hand and hit your side mirror as you pass or gets close to your car to be hit it as you pass. You stop and the person raise an issue that he/she is hurt or that you have broken his/her hand. Whether you offer to drive him to a clinic or not, he/she immediately start asking for compensation.
This has happened in Labone, Cantonments (incl. Togo circle), North Ridge and East Legon.
To do: even though it is unsettling, do not stop, even if your mirror has been broken, and do not report the incident unless you have fully hit the person.
If you stop or have no possibility to leave,
- identify that the alleged victim is claiming to have been hit on a side of his body that actually did come into contact with the vehicle,
- refuse to compensate on the spot or to drive them anywhere. Say instead that you will take them to the police. Whether you do not or do take them to the nearest policeman or police station (do not let them seat in the rear if you have belongings there), they will probably run away,
- if the victim or crowd becomes hostile, it is imperative to remain calm and polite but firm. Alert your security manager or security company immediately upon stopping your vehicle and before getting down from the vehicle. Make sure you keep valuables in the vehicle and the car remains locked. If possible refrain from leaving the vehicle and talk through a window that is slightly open.
On Spintex road, on 37 or in Osu for example, a fake policeman on a bike that does not look like an official one claims you tried to get him out of the road and asks for money.
- ask for his police number
- challenge and he will probably flee
- ask to go with him to the police station
For general protection against robbery while in a vehicle, it is advised to:
- be vigilant for motorbikes approaching your vehicle during the hours of darkness,
- be very cautious about being stopped by a motorbike for any reason (fake accident/ someone claiming you hit them or that your vehicle has a problem),
- if you are involved in an accident and do not feel comfortable stopping, you may wish to drive to the nearest Police station to report the incident,
- store an old/ broken mobile phone and a small amount of money to hand over if threatened,
- if confronted by armed thieves, do not resist but hand over possessions.
Indeed, as a general rule, do not antagonize robbers: give them what they want so you do not get hurt. Many of them are on drugs, therefore fearless, aggressive and determined.
Pepper spray is legally sold in Ghana – not retail but on order only. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to find out if it is still available.
There has been information circulated that stunts gun are also available.
In general, beware of aggressive response. Furthermore, pepper spray can be difficult to use effectively and can provoke increased violence.
A better object to carry and use might be an alarm device.