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Life in Ghana

Public Transportation in Accra #TroTroDiaries

My Friday night was pretty tameScreenshot 2015-09-06 09.41.31, when I imagine what you may expect from a single mid-twenty-something woman…

After a series of meetings during the day, I embarked, on what I imagined would be a pretty straight-forward journey to my home.

If only transportation in Accra would be so simple.

There is “Friday traffic”.

What is Friday traffic?

Well, I don’t actually know.

There is a commonly accepted theory that Fridays have the most traffic, though I’m yet to find a suitable explanation as to why Fridays are so unique in the traffic situation in Accra.

It is not unheard of for people to leave the office early to beat this infamous traffic.

Anyway, I’m not here to complain about traffic. Let’s talk public transportation.

On this Friday, due to “Friday traffic”, my commute doubled. I took the local bus service, “tro tro”, and was unable to get a seat on my route for quite some time.

My tro tro finally came and I was in shock as I fought not to fall and hurt myself as the crowd pressed into my back. I saw a man push a woman aggressively to get a seat.

I saw a man push a woman aggressively to get a seat.

Think what you like, but I do believe in chivalry. I do believe in men physically protecting women, and I expect that. To see a woman get pushed aside for a bus seat, because of “Friday traffic” appalled me.

However, the aggression is not exclusive to men. I don’t understand why, for the most part, people were so impatient [we all wanted to get home] and willing to put everyone around them in mild physical danger just to get home…

Does this post help at all?

Probably not – but I wanted to talk about it anyway.


About Combing for Curls

Ghanaian-Nigerian Accra-based natural hair blogger and vlogger. Creator/curator of African culture and political content.


One thought on “Public Transportation in Accra #TroTroDiaries

  1. when it comes to trotros, it seems as though the system just works organically and you have to figure it out by experience. i might add that it definitely helps if you understand the twi language, because while English is the official language in Ghana, English is *definitely* a second language and you’re walking around hearing people talking while having no idea what they are saying. my first trotro rider was very eventful, it was a few hours after i landed in accra – when i got on the trotro, i asked the mate to let me off at danquah circle (as i wanted to go to osu); instead, i was let off at nkrumah circle (which with all the road construction is a very puzzling area to navigate). so there i was in a foreign country, surrounded by people speaking a “foreign” language (which of course it was not) and i was completely lost as to where i was! add to it all, it was over 90 degrees and very humid – i thought to myself, if i pass out from the heat, i will be in a very difficult predicament indeed! suffice it to say, i was quite anxious to say the least.

    from what i have figured out, the trotros seem to operate as a spoke-and-hub system, in which there are certain terminals where large numbers of trotros gather and then disperse throughout different areas of the city. five such terminals that i have discovered are tema station, teshie, 37, kaneshie and seiko. knowledge of where those “hubs” are is very helpful in getting around Accra.

    i believe that that knowledge held by regular riders of the trotros can be documented into a form that would be very helpful to obrunis, such as myself. for example, if there were a map that showed the major trotro terminals, that would give a person a general idea of which terminal puts them in the area in which they seek to travel. this is also helpful because the mates call appear to call out the terminal destination (of course, they often don’t call out the station and just use hand signals), so knowledge of where these terminals are located would help the traveler figure out which trotro to take.

    using the trotros is quite an adventure if you don’t speak the language – but my experience is that people will help you out. as you noted in one of your videos, when it comes to taking the taxi, when the taxi driver makes you out to be an obruni, you’re going to pay a jacked-up “obruni price”. on one occasion, i took a taxi from the labadi beach area to kaneshie station and the guy charged me 80 cedis! but taxi ripoffs notwithstanding, the trotro is a much better way to experience the city and the people living in the city because if you are not from there, you have to ask for help. i enjoyed riding the trotros at night; watching the city go by. one of the nice things about riding around after dark is that the partially finished towers (which are a bit of an eyesore) are not quite as noticeable.

    as a U.S. obruni, my impression is that accra is VERY different from a city in the U.S. and it is a city with a lot of warts; it’s the kind of place where you know that you are in a “third world” country. but it is a city with its own kind of charm. I have a lot of admiration for the people there: I have a lot of admiration for the hawkers (mostly women, some carrying their infants) who work very hard, for long hours; at night the vendors in the stalls set up their LED or CFL lights to continue selling after dark (it is dark in accra by about 6:30pm). I could say the same about the trotro drivers, who apparently start work at around 5:00am and drive until 9 or 10 at night. it’s little wonder that Africans who come to the U.S. are such hustlers, because you pretty much have to hustle to survive, at least as I observed in Ghana

    a somewhat humerous trotro experience: i was walking around at a trotro station while attempting to determine which trotro to take. a mate saw me and said something to the effect of: “worekɔ he?” (where are you going?) my first thought was that he couldn’t tell that i was an obruni, so i was tempted to try to respond with something like: “mepɛ sɛ mekɔ ” (“I would like to go to “); but i figured that such a response would encourage the mate to engage me in a conversation in twi and i would have quickly run out of things that i could say or understand, at which point it would have become readily apparent that i was an obruni. so instead, i just answered the mate in English. the mate then directed me in English and i was on my way

    Posted by ronald | May 3, 2016, 5:03 AM

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