Trotro is Ghana's favourite mode of public transport, Kwame Gyan compiles a list of thing he has observed about public transport in Ghana
1. If you are approaching any bus stop or lorry station and hear the competing shouts of mates then you should know there are more trotros than passengers. It probably also means it is not rush hour yet or it is passed rush hour. A mate is a bus conductor. We call them mates because we want to.
2. If you sit first at the front seat of a trotro you should confine yourself to be a middle seat passenger or take measures to ensure that you can twaa your 7 as the trotro moves. If you don’t know what ‘7’ is, ask a Ghanaian.
3. To secure your front passenger seat by the door, be on the lookout for the other passenger who has meant your seat and politely but quickly get down so he moves to the middle. The middle seat is not often comfortable and you risk the driver’s hands brushing you now and again.
4. Understand that part of the conventions of the trotro is that whoever got into the trotro first decides where to sit all the time. If he chooses to sit at the edge, it is his prerogative.
5. Know that the mate is King during the rush hours in the mornings and evenings and the passenger is King during the lean hours between the rush hours, ie normally in the afternoon.
6. If you can, get your coins before you board the trotro or get the kind heart to let the mate pretend he has forgotten about your change.
7. Mates don’t like passengers that carry paper currency especially 10, 20 and 50 cedis bills.
8. Chances that your mate has an odour you probably can’t stand is as high as an NDC candidate winning a Parliamentary seat in the Volta Region.
9. Do not always expect a driver and a mate to be in charge of a trotro. Sometimes, especially during the lean, non-rush hour periods, you can find two mates manning a trotro with a huge chance none has the requisite license.
10. The ‘pure water’ sachet is the ‘mate’s’ preferred coins holder carefully tucked behind the front passenger seat.
11. You will rarely find the radio in a trotro tuned to Citi FM or Joy FM. OK FM, Peace FM, Oman FM, Adom FM and the like are the trotro’s favourite radio stations.
12. The duster is perhaps the most treasured piece of equipment in the trotro. Yup. It’s not the jack or the spanner. The duster is the face towel, the napkin, the headgear, the cooler, the money holder and of course the duster for the driver and the mate.
13. Not every trotro plies every neighbourhood. Some areas have got specific trotro that work there. For example, the Space buses are the preserve of the Odorkor, Kaneshie, etc route; the old Ford buses are fond of Korle Bu and Osu, etc. Ask your local champion which one your area is fond of.
13. If you don’t have the heart, please seal you ears during a political debate in a trotro. It can get really heated and the arguments can sometimes be so lame.
14. Always pay attention to the mate especially when he asks which passengers will alight at the next 4 stops. He needs the information so he preps himself to call out for new passengers to fill the seat about to be vacated and to know when to give you change. If you dare forget to tell him where you want to alight, you may end up been dropped off at the next bus stop of the AMA boys are around or having to do a risky jump off in the middle of the road.
15. If you know you are going somewhere very important and need to look your very best with minimum creases in your outfit and minimise the risk of soiling yourself, then please pick a taxi and not a trotro. As a personal rule before I bought a car, I would always pick a dropping whenever I wore a suit or had to wear a white shirt.
16. When you board a trotro during the lean period where there are more buses than passengers, chances that the trotro that seem to have a lot more passengers and ready to move may I’m fact be filled with friends of the mate and driver to convince you they are ready to go. Don’t be offended when they strategically disembark and you spend a little more time before your trotro moves.
17. Not everyone in a trotro is a pick pocket. But there may be one or two pick pockets. Some are mean enough to have knives to skillfully cut the bottom of your handbag so the contents drop on the floor before you know it. These pick pockets did not study Psychology at Legon but I bet you they study their targets well.
19. To be continued...