Accepted paper:

"They spoiled our business": Disruptions, changing income possibilities and new financial strategies of taxi and lorry drivers in Ghana


Benjamin Haas (University of Cologne )

Paper short abstract:

Taxi and lorry drivers in Ghana have been facing profound changes of their business recently, both from within and outside the transport sector. This ethnography explores how drivers react differently to these developments and how they impact on their income strategies.

Paper long abstract:

Lorry and taxi drivers are a prime mover of the local economy of Kintampo, a medium-sized town and transport hub in central Ghana. Drivers move goods, people and money between markets, villages and the city. They also connect Kintampo to the bigger cities in the North and South. Recently, drivers in and around Kintampo have been facing profound changes and disruptions of their business, both from within the transport sector itself and from outside. Using data from ethnographic fieldwork my paper will explore how drivers react differently to these developments and how they impact their income possibilities, future aspirations and financial strategies.

While some blame recently introduced motorbike taxis (okadas) for "spoiling their business", others argue the new government is responsible for fuel price increases. Still others claim that the collapses of microfinance institutions in Kintampo threw them into a personal financial crisis.

I will show how drivers navigate through these changes and disruptions and through the complex and risky financial landscape of their locality, displaying a variety of individual and creative financial strategies and imaginaries. While some see themselves at the mercy of these changes and their reaction to it can rather be characterised by contingencies, others find new opportunities by becoming promoted from a taxi to a lorry driver or even manage to make a better living outside the transport sector.

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