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We not about that "trotro" life!

Nowadays, life in Ghana consists of using public transportation everyday. There was no way we were going to pay $5000 USD plus custom fees to ship our cars to Ghana. Living in Accra without a car, can definitely be done without issue but it isn't always easy. 

Traffic in Accra 
The trotro is the main form of transportation here in Ghana. It is basically a van that operates like a small bus to transport people through the city for an affordable price. These vans are the cheapest form of transportation usually costing between 1 and 4 cedis (less than $1 USD) per ride. We were told by many upon our arrival that taking the trotro was the best method for getting around. A repat stated we should take the trotro for a month to get to know the system. Its been over a month and we have been riding the trotro more so than any other form of transportation. However, it did not take a month for us to realize that public transportation, especially the trotro was not our friend!

The hardest part of taking the trotro is the amount of time the mates (operators of the trotros) take trying to lure people onto their trotros. They do this because they want to fill every seat before taking off. The more passengers you have the more money you make. The vehicles are usually packed tighter than a can of sardines. Just imagine people practically sitting on your lap in a small space with no AC in 90+ degree weather. It can make for a very sweaty and sticky situation! These conditions coupled with the fact that you may have to be on one for extended periods of time depending on your destination, does not equate to a pleasurable trip.

Trotros Aren't Always Well Kept
Additionally, the trotros are rarely kept in the best condition with regards to overall maintenance. We literally were riding on a trotro that stopped in the middle of the street. The mates and several passengers had push it out of the road while the vehicle jerked and sputtered. We were nearly hit by oncoming traffic during the process. Once the driver got the trotro working, he sped down the road, nearly ran off the road, and jammed on the breaks so the passengers could get back on. The series of events resulted in some passengers demanding their money back. We realized all of this had happened because we had run out of gas. The whole experience was funny, but dangerous at the same time.

Image result for trotro bus
The Trotro Packed as Usual
Riding the trotro with kids can be stressful as well. During our first visit, we rode the trotro approximately 2 or 3 times without issue. In fact, Dj was in love with the trotro so much so that when we returned to the States, he told us his favorite part of the trip were the trotro rides. However, since returning, Dj does not have the same desire to ride the trotro. Mainly because he is smashed by the other people and often has to sit on one of our laps. It’s can be a miserable experience for him especially if we are taking a long trip. We have even noticed that Ghanaians with kids are irritated by having to be on the trotro with their kids. We only have one kid, so we can only imagine what it would be like with multiple children.

Parks Family Trotro Adventures
Despite our intentions not to purchase a car prior to the move, we have now decided a car is a necessity for our family. They say in Ghana, the greater Accra region to be exact, “You should not plan to do more than one thing per day.” We have found that no matter how short the task should take, riding the trotro to get it done, will make the task at least two to three times longer. Therefore, you won’t get much done. Although, we jump in a cab wherever we need to make a simple journey without the hassle, a car will ease some of the inconveniences that come with utilizing the trotro and the expense that comes with a taxi.  We are currently in the process of looking for a vehicle to use while we are in Ghana between our travels through the continent. This should give us accessibility to places/resources we need while allowing us to move around the city in comfort. Our goal is to use the car and trotro interchangeably as we get more familiar with the trotro system. Our suggestion is that you find what works for your family because being comfortable makes the transition easier. Until next time….

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1 comment:

  1. The Trotro is called Taxis in South Africa and my husband refuses to take them. Fortunately, Uber is alive and well and has been a consistent way of travel in the country. Enjoying your posts, my sister!