Archive for category trotro

Dangerous things trotro drivers do


I am always picking phone calls whiles driving and I am sure a lot of professionals who drive to work have formed the habit of using one hand to hold the phone to their ears whiles driving or sometimes use their shoulder to hold the phone in place when they have to change the gear/shift.

It has been illegal to drive and talk on the cellular phone in Israel and other countries for some time and just recently the Ghana Police Service has cracked its whip and out to arrest any drivers caught in the act.[Don’t know if there are any by-laws or legislature covering this in Ghana]

Many scholarly articles have addressed this issue. Ref: Wikipedia – Mobile Phones and Driving Safety and drawn parallels between drunk-driving and driving whiles making phone calls.

However, I find these two actions by trotro drivers much more dangerous than talking on the cell phone:

1. Trotro drivers changing money for their mates whiles driving

2. Trotro drivers chatting or fighting with passengers behind him

It is a nice balancing act when trotro drivers manage to get up and get money out of their back pockets to break the GHc 20 or GHc 50 into smaller denominations for their mates. Mostly passengers don’t care much about the driver’s act as long as they get their change when they ask for it. But whenever I find myself in the seat behind a driver trying to execute such an act, it becomes clear to me the kind of risk he’s taking and how precariously the lives of his passengers hang in a balance for that short moment of distraction. How the driver manages to count GHc 1.00 in coins of 20GHp and 10GHp always fascinates me but now IT ACTUALLY SCARES ME.

For regular trotro-boarding folks like myself, I have encountered many drivers. [Types of drivers will be for another post]. But the bellicose or stressed driver is one you don’t want to mess with. They fight over just about everything, fight with everyone and takes offense easily. So how do you call to order a driver who is in a fight with a passenger? How can you stop the driver from looking over his shoulder to cast his dagger-eyes and aspersions at the ‘right’ passenger?

In all these cases, reaction-time of the drivers is greatly reduced because of the distraction and that scares me more than when a driver is talking on the phone and has one hand on the steer and looking straight ahead.

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The trotro driver who cried wolf…


I hope I managed to get your attention with this one…reading to see what new twist I have managed to put on the most popular of  Aesop’s fables: The boy who cried wolf. I am sure by the time you finish reading this post you will realize that I was only drawing an analogy on the morale of that ever popular story.

But do indulge me!

I have lived all my life in Ghana and I know one thing as a certainty about trotro and taxi drivers; they toot their horns for many reasons and one of the main reasons for tooting their horns is NO REASON.

You’ll realize after a few weeks or months of driving or using Ghana’s public transportations that the trotro drivers just love to toot their horns; in the middle of nowhere, with no passenger’s attention to draw….. they just love to toot their horns.

So if you catch yourself looking into your side mirrors to ‘catch’ what the trotro driver is trying to communicate to you, chances are he wouldn’t even be looking in your direction and you’ll soon know better.

So for all the good reasons that the horn was made for, you’ll realize that it hardly serves any of those purposes when it comes to using Ghanaian roads. Thanks to trotro drivers and taxi drivers we have to battle a cacophony of car horns that incessantly pollute our natural sounds, the ipod, office meeting even our thoughts. It is the hum of the capital, a sign that this beast is awake and about her business. smh

The other day I was sitting in yet another rickety trotro praying to get home safely and then our driver starts tooting his horn. At first I couldn’t be bothered to look at his unfortunate object of horn-attack until I realized it was more persistent than the usual random tooting. Raising my head from my phone (reading tweets), I realized he was drawing the attention of another trotro driver whose back swing-doors were opening with the likelihood that the cargo stashed will spill into the road [and possibly cause an accident].

I was surprised that the trotro driver in front of mine didn’t slow down or even acknowledge our trotro driver in any way.

Then it occurred to me….

This is the trotro driver who cried wolf….and now no one pays him any mind.

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A Culture of Insults?


Growing up was fun and sometimes difficult because I couldn’t get away with much. There was no way I could insult a playmate without getting a scolding from a passing adult. There was no way I was going to see or hear an insult on TV or in a movie. There were fewer television programs back then.

I still remember Aku Shika as one of my favourite Ghanaian movies. The movie producers made up for their poor equipment by producing educative, funny and generally better movies. The ever popular Sunday evening Osofo Dadzi was not popular because it was the ‘only’ show but because it remained innovative, comic and stayed true to its moral themes.

This post was inspired by Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood and an observation made by Graham.

Things have definitely changed.

 

It is not now as it hath been of yore;—

Turn wheresoe’er I may,

By night or day,

The things which I have seen I now can see no more.


Are we slowly descending into a Culture of Insults? I think we are! And I’m not even talking about politicians here. I’m talking about the many insults trotro drivers and taxi drivers hurl at each other and other road users. I am talking about the local Ghanaian language movies that sell for cheap and find their way into our homes and broadcast to our television sets. I am talking about all the insults we are taking in and likely to give back after they have festered and can’t be suppressed any longer.

If there is something I hate about public transportation, it is that trotro drivers and their mates insult just about everyone they encounter in the line of duty.

– How many times haven’t trotro drivers honked at and insulted private drivers who are waiting ahead of them at a traffic light? [moments before the light turns green].

– How many times haven’t trotro drivers overtaken and insulted private drivers who [have made the conscious effort to] respect the speed limit, road signs and the zebra-crossing

– I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a trotro driver insult a private driver or a pedestrian just for the sake of it; calling a private driver ‘a privileged *insert expletive*’ is so commonplace that some passengers in these buses laugh or throw in their insults for good measure.

I can’t stand insults in Ghanaian movies, especially those that are meant to incite laughter . Why can’t Agya Koo, Judas and Kyewaa say or do something funny or say something witty?

– Casting my mind back to Kwaw Ansah’s Love Brewed in the African Pot, I wonder where all the smart people in the Ghanaian movie industry went. Can’t we simply produce a comic moment that will be as memorable as the closing scene of the #LBitAP any longer? Without resorting to insults?

– Unless I’m wrong, everyone of these movies is supposed to carry a socio-cultural message. You can check their titles or watch how in the end the good always triumphs over the evil, how Ghanaian traditions are upheld and portrayed in all of its splendour. [the typical Ghanaian storyline]. However, what the audience take from these movies are the many insults. The chain of insults can be heard playing on people’s cell phones and the latest of them are actually discussed.

– You find adults laughing when they hear kids throwing these same insults around because they happen to be quoting Agya Koo or Kyewaa. (And before you think that you don’t fall in this category, remember that ‘this category’ happens to be the majority of the Ghanaian population).

Don’t tolerate this creeping phenomenon. Don’t let us stand by while Ghana descends into a culture of insults.

Reproach a kid you see insulting another kid because that is the Ghanaian thing to do. And, remind an adult to watch his/her language [if the circumstances permit] because that is the Ghanaian thing to do.

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This Blog!


This Blog is run by me but can do with some guest contributors or a co-blogger.

This Blog is about trotros and public transportation but it has the right to stray every now and then.

This Blog is not licensed but if it were it’d be under Creative Commons.

This Blog is a product of Open Source writing and editing tools and hosted on an Open Source blogging portal.

This Blog is an avenue to let some of my creative juices flow, document my thoughts and try to capture the moment in words and pictures.

This Blog is meant for my consumption but I love you tagging along, your comments and will love a blog post suggestion from you.

This Blog is supposed to highlight how public transport can be fun, infuriating, counter-productive to Ghana’s development and even deadly.

This Blog is about users of public transportation: the driver and his mate, the passengers, the other road users and how they all interact.

This Blog is subject to change in focus because it is an extension of the owner’s ever-changing mind.

This Blog should be cut a slack sometimes, errors are solely the writer’s!

 

 

What does this blog mean to you?

What more can this blog be?

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BUSTED! Too much information on public transportation


I’ve had 2 interesting experiences these past few days and it just occurred to me that most of us have been taking a lot for granted. I’ve always noted this but it really hit me over the weekend.

Case 1: I was in [front] a cab with 3 women [from a funeral] in the back talking about another lady. In summary, this lady was shagging her best friend’s husband for 10years until the house-maid reported to a neighbour, who helped to ‘catch’ her pants down with the husband of her friend. At one point drawing the driver and I into the conversation, ribbing us about how men can be ‘wicked’.

Case 2: I was in the back of a trotro and this man in the middle seat is talking about the money he was going to deliver to another person. Apparently he was running late. [Not unlike the MTN man calling his burger friend]

Let us look at Case 1:

Anyone who cared to learn the identity of the cheating friend and husband could have found them with the amount of information the ladies were throwing around in the cab.

I gathered the general area of residence of the chatting ladies. Where the subjects of the story lived, their business place and [the fact] that the cheating woman in question was in the business of sleeping around.

Why would anyone discuss such a sensitive issue (bothering on) defamation with total strangers using real names, locations etc.?

 

Case 2

Who ever does that? Who talks about the amount of money they’re carrying? Any person on the bus could have sent a text message to get him waylaid. Why did he have to mention that he was carrying money, the amount and where he was supposed to meet his friend? Couldn’t he have simply sent a text message?

People who use public transport often give out too much information wittingly or unwittingly

1. Talking on cellular phones

2. Chatting with a friend on the trotro or taxi

3. Chatting with a taxi driver about personal issues/ problems or unwittingly talking money-matters in a taxi. [Taxi drivers have been known to lead armed robbers to houses of people they picked up]

We have to be able to determine whether it is ‘safe’ to discuss something in a public setting or not. Because like in all things we have a choice to make and in this case it is a choice to protect personal information. A decision that might even save your life and property.

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Give me a push – JAG style


Many reasons account for why cars breakdown. It is tough if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere or in the middle of #Accra traffic, tougher if you are riding alone. You’ll be lucky to be driving with a few good friends in the back, like I assume was the case of this JAG.

Let us just assume that some of the cars in Ghana are too old, poorly maintained and with non-existent servicing history.

But a JAGUAR too?

It is rare to see a jaguar (with crown and all) panting by the curb in need of some torque / horse-power from behind: begging for a push!

Now that is a sight to behold!

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Why I don’t do trotro front seat


Only two reasons why I’ll sit in the front passenger seat of the trotro (3 actually)
1. If It is the only available seat on the bus

2. If I really can’t bear sitting in the back because of my long legs (read, close seats designed to maximize fare)

3. When the mate opens the front door because the bus is still moving

WHY NOT?

1. I am scared! Darn right I’m scared!! Now, if you are a driver and you sit in another equally ‘bad’ drivers car you definitely know what I’m talking about. Just multiply that craziness by a factor of 2. Who am I kidding 10, and then you’ll know why I don’t want to sit in the front seat.

2. You get the best view of the house (read trotro) from the back seat anyway.

3. I’m reminded of TLC Scrubs everytime someone jumps into the front seat of a trotro…weird! lol

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