Transport in Ghana is accomplished by road, rail, air and water through the use of trains, aircraft, vehicles and ships or boats. The types of commercial vehicles recently used in Ghana are ubers, taxies, buses for long journeys, motorbikes and “trotros” which are most commonly used. If you are in Ghana and you plan to move around a lot, you might want to consider using a trotro. The trotro business in Ghana, is such that it takes an optimistic businessman with lots of understanding to undertake such a business. Trotro is the most affordable means of transport in Ghana and can be found almost everywhere. The reason people like to board trotros is that it is cheaper, readily available and safer especially when one forgets an item in the bus he or she can retrieve it by picking it up at the trotro station unlike other means of transportation, which could be a bit risky. Some countries usually call this public transport ‘buses’ in Nigeria for example.
The trotro business is such that, it has no arrival and departure time. It appears that the trotro is the most common vehicle on the nation’s highways, and they also appear to carry more passengers than any of the other means of conveyance.
In Ghana, each trotro has two employees: the driver and the conductor popularly known as “mate”. The driver is usually an older man who owns the car or is hired by the owner of the car to make daily sales and he is usually the calm one as his concentration is on steering, to ensure that the passengers reach their destinations safely. The mate on the other hand is a young man in his youthful age who stirs the affairs of passengers in the bus although there are few ladies who take up this role as mates which are rarely seen. The mate is usually seen hanging on the bus and calling for passengers with a unique voice without noticing suffering. He in turn take the fares and will always have problems with giving passengers their change.
Unless the bus is full, trotro drivers stop at every bus stop to pick passengers and these drivers are very vigilant and will stop once they notice you. To get on board a trotro, you usually have to flag them down with your hands or shout to stop them once you notice they are going in the same direction as you. Sitting in a trotro in Ghana is an experience on its own. Being a passenger in the trotro could be a hub for socialization, discussion on pertinent issues in society and watching movies as some buses has television.
Although a trotro is a public transport, all manner of passenger’s behaviors can easily be tolerated by the mate, whereas, some passengers cannot tolerate themselves. Sitting in this bus also demands strategy as people prefer the seats closer to the window to gain fresh air. Sometimes boarding a trotro is ‘survival of the fetus’ as one struggles to get on board especially after work, since everyone wants to rush home and this is a perfect excuse most mate use to sell their seats to passengers for extra income. Before a trotro driver moves the bus, he wants to ensure that the bus is full with passengers before setting off for his destination.
One outrageous strategy drivers use which deters passengers is when a trotro is heading to a particular destination and has fewer passengers, they decide not to reach their destination. The mate in turn looks for another bus heading to their destination and ask passengers to board that instead and pay he pays their fares for them.
Some experiences are worth it while others are not and in the end some passengers with good experience build that rapport with the drivers and conductors and these could lead to a free transport for that day or period.
One cannot really tell what the future holds for this commercial buses but as Ghanaians we cannot do without them.