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Opinions of Friday, 17 June 2016

Columnist: WARUKS

Why I love travelling in Trotros

Trotro is a form of commercial transportation bus Trotro is a form of commercial transportation bus

If you are Ghanaian or you live in a neighboring country or you may have visited Ghana previously, the word Trotro may not be new to you.

If you haven’t, you may be thinking that a trotro is a type of Ghanaian dish or candy or anything but nooo!A tro tro is a van or minibus used for public transport.

In Kenya, we call them matatu and, Tanzanians call them dala dala…whichever the case, you might see some sort of a similarity which is evident in the tongue-twisting name. Bottom line is, East or west, this van is operated the same way, almost in all aspects including having two very aggressive guys: one in the driver’s seat and the other guy calling people to board.

I know most people hate it when they are travelling in a trotro due to the fact that most of them aren’t particularly well maintained and there is no AC or anything to make you feel comfortable but come on, just flip the other side of the coin.

For me, the trotro may not have any AC, nice cushions to protect my butt or even good music to calm my mind but the truth is, when am sitting there, I feel what it is like to be in a real adventure…and by the way, they are very cost effective too, that is if you are a miser like me! Beyond the adventure, there are other stuff you can only learn while travelling in a Trotro.

When you are in a Trotro, you get to experience something close to James Dean’s game of ‘chickening out’. A Trotro will never give way for another car to pass. A Trotro doesn’t believe in the thing called courtesy or respect for other cars; Big or Small, a Trotro doesn’t give a damn. When the traffic is so dense, the driver will maneuver, use rough short cuts, hop in and out of potholes with pride and scare some chickens and dogs along the way.

What matters to the trotro ‘crew’ is to get the passengers to their destination as fast as they can. They don’t care whether you just did your hair and you don’t want dust getting into it or whether you are wearing your white garment for a wedding…Besides, was it not your choice to board? Forget about the mate convincing you to get in…once you are in, you play by the mate’s rules. Your butt may complain as much as it wants but my friend, just stay calm and let the driver do his job…Meanwhile, the mate is collecting his dues oblivious of what is happening to your unhappy butt and uses such one-worded sentences as:



“10 cedis!”

For the record, front in the trotro dictionary means that- if you are in the front seats, next to the driver, it is your turn to pay your Trotro fare. And next is used for mmmmhhh simply…the next person….If the fare from say Madina to Kwabenya is about 2 cedis and if by any chance you give 10 cedis, the mate, in the process of giving you change, will call out “10 cedis” and so on and so forth.

As advice, you really don’t want to piss off the mate by giving him a 20 cedi note when you are just paying 1 cedi…You will receive a string of insults that you may have never heard before…lol, am kidding but heeey, the king can really really get enraged. So if you want to have a smooth journey, carry loose money with you anytime you think of taking a trip, preferably coins and one cedi notes.

When you are in a Trotro, you get to hear quite a number of ‘new’ words from the incredible mate. When a Trotro is not full to capacity yet, the mate calls out loud to the prospective passengers along the road and you get to hear things like:

“Dome, SeinJo, Lapas!….Dome, Seinjo, Lapas!”


“Accra Sec! Accra Sec! Accra Sec!…..”

Or this one

“Ololo! ololo! ololo! ololo!”

Well, I didn’t know that Seinjo is actually Saint Jones and Accra Sec is Accra Circle or well,….ololo is ‘old road’…but then again, who gives a damn about proper pronunciation here…Trotro guys mean business…in fact, if you read some of the funny slogans on the trotros you may see something such as “If 1 +1 = 11, who cares” , “God is my seatbelt”, “Road to Success full of Potholes” , “If you are in a hurry, get out and run” and many many more slogans which tell their inner motivation for their ‘we don’t care attitude’.

If you haven’t seen what a real competition looks like, you need to see two mates heading to the same destination, but fighting over one undecided passenger. Well this is what happened to me last week and I really felt like a star for once, even if my fame was short-lived as soon as I got in my favorite Trotro only to realize that it was half empty and we had to wait for like 20 minutes…

To make matters worse, I didn’t have loose cash on me..The guy didn’t even remember the fact that I was the same guy who chose to be in his trotro and not the other one with the guy whose shorts were sagging exposing his boxer shorts. He uttered some words in Twi when I handed him my 20 cedis note and even if I don’t really understand a lot of twi, I am sure he was really dying to call me something like, ‘you ugly-headed-“kwasia” boy’.

I waited until he was done collecting everybody’s fare while making the same indistinct grumbling every time someone gave him a ‘heavy’ note and when I heard “20 cedis”, I knew it was my turn to collect my change…Now you know why I said, as a rule—carry ‘loose’ money if you want peace with the mate….

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