TroTro: Transport for the People by the People
A tro tro is a general term for any public transportation vehicle other than a bus or taxi that is designed to carry many people. .... Visit the Trotro Page
The origins of the name Tro-Tro is that Ga language word "tro," which means three pence (pence being the penny coins used during Ghana's colonial days). In the colonial days, the mass transit vehicle charged passengers three pence per trip, and thus were referred to as "tro-tros," and the name have struck ever since.
The tro-tro system also works around a tenet central to Ghanaian society: waiting. There's no schedule, no map outlining routes. You just have to wait at the side of the road for the right one to come along
TroTro Mate: Even if you're at a bus station, and lucky enough to find a tro-tro going in your direction, you must still wait. No matter if it's a broiling thirty five degrees, and you're sticking to your neighbours' arms, and the plastic seat. The driver wants to make as much money as possible, so the bus doesn't take off until it's full.
Boarding: The tro-tro is based on insider knowledge. De-coding the code is the challenge. Rather unhelpfully, tro-tros don't have signs indicating their destination. The onus is on the passenger.
Say you want to go somewhere along the route to "Circle" (Accra's central bus station). You stand at the side of the road and make a circle in the air with your finger. You wait until you see a tro-tro operator (or "mate") making a similar sign out the window, yelling "circle, circle, circle" to indicate its direction. He sees you. The tro-tro stops. You get on. And away you go. A simple system once you understand. Maddening if you don't.
Inside: Businessmen sit beside school children, wedged between students and smartly attired women. With an average annual income around $400, many Ghanaians can't afford to use taxis or buy a car.
Tro-tros are as common on Ghanaian roads as potholes. These minivans provide a vital public service by transporting up to twenty passengers around the city and countryside.
Tro-tros reflect the religiosity of Ghanaians. Many of them carry spiritual messages: "Come to Jesus," "Have you prayed today?" I've even seen "God's Tro-tro" grace the streets of Accra, as if its sole duty were to spread the word of God.
Tro Tro Station: Geared to the masses. Tro-tros are privately owned and operated: run by the people for the people. Reaching your destination is like crossing the finish line in a race. You survived and got to your destination.
Black is better than white: I asked one gap-toothed tro-tro driver how he feels about his tro-tro being a serious polluter. He scratched his chin and looked approvingly at the black smoke billowing out of his exhaust pipe. "I like black", he says. "Black is better than white. It shows the engine is working."
Breakdown: It was always an accomplishment for a foreigner to get on the right bus since the only signs on the bus would have religious phrases like "Trust in God Always" or "Pray." The signs are appropriate since many of the buses are very old and in much need of repair.
: These trotro's have seen better days