The tro-tro experience - Improving safety and comfort of passengers
You have never owned a vehicle before but at least you have a chain of drivers at your beck and call who carry you around town within the city and beyond. The vehicles at your disposal come in different types and models. The moment you become a car owner, you miss out on the group and communal feelings shared with fellow passengers, including the occasional arguments and fight over fare charges in times of fuel price increases.
In Ghana only an insignificant percentage of our population does not use trotro as their means of transportation. Unfortunately, those who fall within that category belong to the decision making class who make, implement and enforce laws and regulations in the country.
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This probably can explain the reason why tro-tro operation has remained the way it is for a long time. Those who can transform this aspect of our transportation system through legislation and proper regulation do not use the service in the first place. The age of vehicles, their passenger capacity, safety precautions and passenger mate/driver relations are all left at the discretion of car owners and their drivers. This has led to exploitation, discomfort and inconvenience of passengers who patronise the tro-tro as their means of transport.
Trot-ros ply almost every route
Welfare of Passengers
Commuting with trotro from one destination of the city to the other comes with series of discomfort and inconveniences. Drivers and their assistants (mates) give little consideration to the welfare and comfort of the passengers they serve. If anything at all, their focus is only fixed on the profit that they need to make for the day and how to increase the margins. Sometimes it is better not to take tro-tro if you know that you need to appear neat where you are going that day.
Seats are left uncleaned, sometimes with dust everywhere. Exposed sharp metals are also left uncovered, posing a risk to those on board. Most of the death and injuries recorded from car accidents involving commercial vehicles can largely be attributed to the exposed metals left unattended to on most commercial vehicles in the country.
Body odour and unwashed mouths are common things passengers experience with most tro-tro mates, especially during the early hours of the day. Make a mistake to complain about the seats or excessive fare charges and you are likely to be met with insults and harsh words from the mates. Needless to talk about the commercial peddlers and ‘pastors’ who are allowed on board to disturb people’s peace in the vehicle.
The state of seats in some of these trotros is a cause of worry to passengers
Socio-political and economic role
Tro-tros remain an affordable means of transportation in the country
Despite all the challenges one encounters on board a tro-tro vehicle, no one can deny the important role this aspect of our transportation system plays in shaping the economic, social and political life of the people in the country. Tro-tro is the most affordable, accessible and widespread means of transportation for millions in the country. One major challenge the nation faced at independence was how to unite the various tribal, political and class differences to build a united Ghana that can stand the test of time. Our national symbols have always taken the credit for uniting us as a nation.
However, the role tro-tro has played all these years in that regard is very significant. It is a beauty when one steps in any tro-tro station in the city at the close of work in the evening. Either in a queue or in a group, the people who are ready to board and sit in the same tro-tro come in different categories. They range from office executives in shirt and tie to market women, literate and illiterates, young and old and people from different tribal and political backgrounds.
An improvement in the services of tro-tros will be a benefit to many
Very soon many people in the country will embark on journeys to different destinations in the country to celebrate the yuletide with families and friends. The majority that will take tro-tro deserve some level of comfort and safety on their trip. If tro-tro owners and drivers are quick to increase fares the moment fuel increase is announced, what prevents them from using the profit to improve the services they render to the public?
The Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) should try to collaborate closely with the transport ministry with the sole purpose of bringing to the fore the challenges passengers face on board trotro vehicles in the country so that the needed legislation would be enacted to improve the services.
Trotro is a brand name unique to Ghana. We are not the only people who enjoy the experience that goes with the brand. Tourists, international conference delegates and foreigners in general have all tasted this unique experience. It is a memory that will stick with them forever as they share this experience with friends within the countries they belong. Why can’t we improve this service for the good of all?