I do admire those who travel on the tro-tro, especially those who are not from this country, I sometimes look in awe at the obroni sitting in the tro-tro in and amongst the black faces and they seem quite comfortable with it.
In all the years I have been travelling to Ghana and now that I am here for the long haul, I have never once been on a tro-tro. The tro-tro is basically a transit van with seats and the cheapest mode of public transport in Ghana. I have to admit, I have lived quite a charmed life. When I used to come on holidays, my uncle provided us with a car and a driver for the most part, and my mother who says she never did that type of public transport in her life would never allow us, so on the days when we didn’t have the car, we’d take a taxi (although I could mention a story or two about some of the taxi’s I had been in). Then we stopped coming to Ghana for some time, and then by the time I did come back, my cousins were old enough to drive and had their own cars, and so I hopped in with them. When I finally settled in Ghana, I took a taxi to work. I paid 5GHS as opposed to the 20pesewas it was at the time (it is now 40pesewas), but it just didn’t occur to me to take the bus. In the evening I would walk to his office which was not so far away, and we would ride home together, I did that for 3 months until my car arrived. So there was no reason to take a tro-tro.
The older I get, the less adventurous I become and well now, although I would like to take this mode of transport just to say I have done it, but I’m scared. The average driver doesn’t care for his passengers or other people on the road. The amount of times I have been driving along a road and have had to swerve to avoid an accident all because this contraption has just pulled out, no indication and all of a sudden because well he owns the road innit, so you have to stop for him. In free flowing traffic they drive at a snails pace. They speed up only when 1. someone is pulling into the junction and 2. when there is heavy traffic (which most of the time they have caused). In heavy traffic, they weave in and out blocking people and swerving out in front of people because they are the only ones in the world with somewhere to go. In the event that they do get into an accident in someone’s car, well most haven’t got insurance on their vehicles so you will have to fork out for the damages yourself. I had an issue with a tro-tro driver last year, I was going round the roundabout so my right of way, there was quite heavy traffic and my man decided to pass by the side which was already tight, taking my front bumper with him. Everybody was like, it is only a bump, the fact that my front was off and hanging meant nothing to him, all he could say was sorry in the end, no compensation, I had to fork out the money to get it fixed myself in the end.
I was sitting in traffic two days ago when a tro-tro went flying down on the other side, the oncoming car practically had to drive on the sidewalk and the van was more or less tilted to the side. You would think this car was doing a rally, which is fine, but there were people’s children, parents and grandparents in that bus, it was an accident just waiting to happen and had it happened, lives would have been lost for what?
If you are going to venture onto the tro-tro, I wouldn’t advice sitting at the back. In fact I would sit as close to the front as possible. I have seen cases where the back of the tro-tro is secured with mere string. Also, sit close to the window. Imagine a London Transport bus on a hot summer’s day. You have everyone from the kids to the office worker to the unwashed and the unkept, now think of these same people in a more cramped capacity. The tro-tro driver is looking to make as much sales as he can so somehow he will squeeze as many people as he can into that transit van. Not a place I would like to be seated in the middle of rush hour on the way to work and the office is far, for this reason alone I would take a taxi, and even at that you can expect a certain level of perspiration as the taxi driver will not let you use his fuel on air-conditioning (that’s if he even has it), let alone a cramped tro-tro.
For me. My tro-tro riding ways would have been in my teens to mid 20s when I was far more eager for adventure and less stuck in my ways. Maybe one day I will find the courage to take one, just to say I have had the experience, until then I watch in awe as my fellow brethren ride along and pray that they get to their journeys accident and perspiration free.