Posts Tagged public transport

Hit the ground running, literally! – Advice from a trotro mate

This is one of the days I’m the only person on the bus. Very few passengers to pick up. About 10pm. So I struck a conversation with the mate. I guess you are not surprised I wanted to know if I could be a mate for a day and what things I needed to know.

Fast forward>>>>> 10mins into the conversation

“….and please don’t jump out of the trotro until it comes to a stop”. He said, smiling and shaking his head.

“What is funny?” I asked. And he said “I remember my first experience of trying to get off this bus whiles it was in motion and what happened to me”.

I was wondering at this point because that was one thing I really love to see mates do – jumping off a moving trotro and cantering and then stopping next to the trotro just when it comes to a stop – The Trotro Mate Stunt.
And it is always beautiful! Something I’ll definitely love to do.

I didn’t know what could go wrong when executing this move, I only figured it would take time to make it look good.

What he told me was a sad story but I couldn’t help laughing with him in the end, after all he’d come to terms with his experience and could see the lighter side of it.

So he narrates his story:

“I planned on getting off the bus at the Odorkor bus stop like the other mates always do. I’d already picked my spot and decided to do a short distance until I was good enough and then show the driver the skills I’d picked up” “Things didn’t exactly go as planned. You can’t believe my surprise when I fell flat on my face as soon as i jumped off the bus” “Here I was, lying flat in the streets of Accra when no one had pushed me out of the bus” “I quickly got up, dusted myself, (discovered a few bruises on my knees and elbows and a small cut on my chin, with my eyes smarting and my ears singing) and run to open the door for the passengers, all this while trying to ignore the jeers and laughter from the few ‘senior’ mates who had seen the whole spectacle. It was not so painful as it was shocking for me”.

“But this is no laughing matter”, I said, after his vivid narration. “Were you hurt badly?”

“Oh no, just a few scratches. Last time a similar thing happened to one of the new mates at the station. ” [laughing and shaking his head]

At this point I had lighten up and was laughing heartily with him and before I could ask more questions, the bus had gotten to my junction……..

……And with that he executed an excellent Trotro Mate Stunt, opened the door with a flourish and said.


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Naming conventions – What is writing is writing

I love to read bumper stickers and lettering on the back of buses. I grew up seeing the philosophical ones like ‘life is a war’, ‘suro nipa'(translated: fear human beings/ fear man). There is the ever popular one in Ghanaian lore – ‘Sea Never Dry’, which can be found only on the very old Albion buses that (used to?) ply the Kaneshie-Korle Bu route…vintage trotros those ones.

The new breed of lettering and messages on the back of trotros are in a world of their own. The fonts are as interesting as is the message they carry. There are those that extol virtues like ‘Love’, those that quote scriptures like ‘Jeremiah 33:3’ and those that are a cross between philosophical and errrr unintended grammatical error like in the picture – WHAT IS WRITING IS WRITING.

I will be carrying the camera around to get some interesting shots of even more interesting stickers/letterings.

Ps. After discussing my blog with a friend(Suel) he shared the most interesting story with me. It goes this way: On his way back home tired and frustrated in a traffic jam from Malam Junction to Awoshie, a trotro sped by in the wrong lane in a hurry to get to the Malam station. After about some 30mins of bumper to bumper crawling-speed Suel gets to the Malam junction to see this bus pulled over by the police and at the lettering/sticker on the back of the trotro was PATIENCE. How ironic!!

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TROTRO – The Introduction

The TROTRO is the average Ghanaians second home. An estimated 2 hours is spent on the trotro for any worker who commutes by this means of public transport.
Needless to say it is a part of our lives and does have an impact on our mood, our view of the world etc. There is always some drama going on at the trotro station, in the trotro bus and not to forget the driver and his mate.

To any stranger trotros might seem to be unregulated and craziest means of transport around but I can assure you that there is some order in this chaos. Fares are well known and well fought over in buses if the mate tries to pull a fast one, there are bus terminals where queues are respected in case of shortage of buses. Besides these, everything else is run by the driver, his mate and the passengers and that makes for an interesting blend that can spark fights or remain uneventful.

But anyone who ever rode on a trotro more than once will most probably have a story to tell. You can come for a refund of your time reading to this point if you were never intrigued by a trotro or a trotro ride. I bet even the pampered lot out there who never rode on a trotro have their own tales to tell. From being rudely crossed by a trotro eager to get a passenger before the other driver gets them to the occasional trotro-scratch-BMW cases.

The roads wouldn’t be any fun without trotro drivers. They actually add spice to this life. They are the reason we take all the defensive driving lessons (ergo, the driving schools wouldn’t have been so many and doing so much business), they make me feel like a better driver just looking at the way they pull over the shoulder of the road to pick a fare or enter the road with wanton disregard for other road users and oh how I like it when they give signals of police barriers ahead to help us kill the speed before the police pull us over to extort some Ghana Cedis (if you’ve been to these parts before, you know the rap).

If you hear more than 3 sharp blurts of the horn, chances are the trotro driver is trying to get your attention or even distract your attention. The tooting of their horns have messages embedded but no two drivers will give the same interpretation to same combination of tooting. There is no trotro Morse Code on the road.

It is always a love and hate relationship and trotros and everything that comes with it surely is no exception.

Welcome to the official TROTRO BLOG!

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