Different be it we call it Trotro. But it still a normal public bus we all commute through. Don’t start with that face I know normal means different things to different people. The name trotro originates from the Ga word ‘tro’ meaning one shilling or a pesewa due to the fact that, that was the currency used in the Gold Coast. That was the fare the public buses indeed were charging years back. Therefore just like a normal Ghanaian society where a Ghanaian flavor would spice everything up we ended up with the name trotro.
But these days with most of our youth taking language lessons from our brother’s and sister’s who fortunately or unfortunately find themselves in America. You will hear names like troski trust me you heard it well, it’s just a new name the new modern generation as they would like to be called have named after the traditional trotro. So trotro or troski it all boils down to the same public transport. But in recent times though the name trotro is being accustomed with smaller public busses such as the 207’s, mini vans and their types of buses, bigger larger ones have had their own names accustomed to them as well.
That’s the Ghanaian spirit; we have one big bus called the space bus. Oh my God although I’ve on many occasions used the Space bus I’ve never sat in or seen in a new one. Trust me no offence to the driver’s, it’s owners or passengers who use, will use, or have ever used the space bus but the space bus is always old, rickety and rusty but yet still it does take us to our destination. We make good use of it and at least it’s normally sprayed to let it shine a bit but bros man thing old eh e old abi as my Nigerian friend will say. But seriously we love the Space bus wish you could take a drive one day on a space bus, it will be fun trust me. They normally work in Odorkor to Kaneshie don’t get confused these are places in Accra, Ghana Africa.
Another name for another big bus is the Kuffour bus. And yes the name originates from former president Kuffour, he didn’t name it but we did, yes us, I mean Ghanaians of course. The history is that President Kuffour introduces this type of bus services during his tenure of office. It was to offer cheaper fares and free ride’s to school children, these buses are the normally Chinese long buses you know. It was officially known as the Mass Metro Transport. So with no Ghanaian name but one long English name Ghanaians decided on the name Kuffour bus which is easier to say, Ghanaian friendly and locally unique. All other public transport busses have been using their “Christian” names by their companies due to the fact that it’s simple and Ghanaians like the name. But something to note in Ghana’s Trotro industry is that they don’t belong to one company or person, it’s an individualistic thing.
Having now known the names of the buses. It’s just the first step; there are normally techniques we all have studied to be able to use a trotro or troski day in day out. Without some of these techniques you might stand along a road side hours and no trotro will stop for you to board. Sorry folks may be in your country you just stop at a bus stop and you join a bus and they may even work with time. That’s so not Ghanaian in any way. Culture is dynamic you never know we might change in the future, and the future can even be the next hour. In Ghana before a Trotro easily stops, wait a minute you still thinking of a bus stop? Sorry we have less bus stops we all create bus stops so that is the way understand it that way and let go on. Every destination has a symbol used to represent it so before the trotro will get to you if you are not displaying or motioning them with the destination symbol the trotro is heading to they will not stop for you to board. Or then you must wait till the mate calls out their destination and the mate calls out the destination as they are driving. So when you not experienced enough by the time you hear the destination they mate is calling out they might be a little ahead from your customized bus stop and trust me you have to run to catch up before the typical Ghanaian passengers start ruining insults on you for wasting their precious time. The signs for various destinations vary in Ghana and it even changes taking into consideration your geographical location or the position you stand towards your destination, it’s a whole lot of calculation.
But some destination symbols don’t change no matter what but be sure it isn’t conflicting with another destination. One of such symbols is the circular hand motion sign which usually means round about or its sole destination which is the famous Kwame Nkrumah Circle.
On board a trotro you must be quick or you may get injured from those Grandfathered vehicles because they are very old and rusty but occasionally you see new ones you will enjoying being in. But till that ever after, with the normal one’s, you must be quick to sit because when you board a trotro along the road as soon as both feet of your are in the trotro the driver takes off not considering if you are seated or not, you might think it’s cruelty or bad customer service. You mistaken they don’t know this; they want more passenger’s because the more passengers they pick the more money in their pockets. Just imagine on a hot afternoon in one rickety trotro speeding on a pot holed road with fellow human’s parked in like sardines. It’s bad right, yeah I agree with you really bad. Don’t start to tear up wait! In a trotro you should be accustomed to the usual shift here and there, get down here get down there. Yea you got to get down! See because it’s not spacious and they want more money in their pockets the whole trotro is made up of seats. So if someone at the back seat or even in the middle wants to alight all passengers blocking his exist must alight to make way for him/her to alight after which you all must pack yourself back inside. So you should always get yourself seated at places you wouldn’t have to be alighting always along the way. These places are normally near the windows on the left side of the vehicle. The front of the seat is usually reserved for old men and perceived rich people or better still people who will love to seat there. In the trotro scenario you pay according to the distance you are heading towards. You pay fixed price only when you board from one station to the other.
In Ghanaian tradition if you happen to be in a trotro with someone you know, one of you is expected to pay the fare for the other. The elderly always want to pay for the youngsters. But youngsters also take real pride in paying for the elderly. As a youngster when paying for an elderly you must make sure they don’t see you because they will stop you and its normally supposed to be a surprise. Ghanaian behavior of love and kindness is at its best in trotro’s, women who board with children are normally helped with their children. Other passengers normally opt to carry them on their laps. And whenever a mate ….goodness me I didn’t explain the meaning of the “mate”. The mate is the one who helps the driver in the trotro business; he normally takes fares and controls the boarding and alighting of passengers. The Nigerian calls them conductor. You think the mate shouldn’t be there hell no he should be. Our troski’s don’t have automatic door it’s manually operated. And the mates and drivers are men it’s in very, very, very really very rare instances you will find a woman mate I can count only two I know of. Trust me in order to alight at your destination you got to know the name of the joint or the traditionally trotro created spot junction, every five meters has got a trotro name. But trust me when you on board a trotro and don’t know the trotro accustomed name for where you want to alight ask a fellow passenger, tell him/her you don’t know the name and he will make sure he takes the responsibility of making sure you’re alighted where you are supposed to. That’s Ghanaian hospitality at its least.
One serious bad behavior is that when mates see you looking good in clothes, I don’t know but they easily spot rich folks and then they try cheating them by keeping your change when you’ve not asked them to. And if you aren’t smart enough they will unlawfully take you change. But don’t be surprised when a fellow passenger fights the mate to give you your change when they see the mate is planning on taking that action against you.
Boarding a trotro entails a lot sometimes you know, some people even fight to get seats in a trotro depending on the time of day and their destination.
Trotro, troski, space bus, Kuffour bus or whatever you might call it, you are now welcomed to enjoy our trotro with the needed skills so that you won’t flare up joining one. You can take an excursion around Accra in one and you will really enjoy it in the trotro world trust me.
AUTHOR: SAMUEL PALM