"Trotro" is a local slang commonly used in the Ghanaian society for minivans which are purported for mainly intercity transportation. Trotro has the largest share in the transport system and it is highly patronized by commuters than other mode of transportation.Especially in Accra where the area mass population is over two million per the Ghana statistics service as of 2019 and 2020. In Accra, where majority of the populace do not own their own vehicles, they tend to depend on the service of trotros for their daily transportation. In most cases, trotro becomes the first option for transportation because It is cheaper as compared to other transport means such as the use of taxis , Ubers , motorcycle and tricycles. However, it becomes more frightening when almost all the minivans which most commuters depend on are in terrible shapes. Issues of rickety trotros in Accra can not be swept under the carpet or be treated as one of the minor issues in this country because , rickety trotros pose a life-threatening risk to passengers. The safety of passengers is paramount hence vehicles which are not roadworthy shouldn't be allowed to function on our roads.
The outer body of most rickety trotros are characterized with welded metal scraps which cover up cracked openings found openly on the vehicles. The headlights are often broken, some rickety vans drive with little or no lights at night .The complete skeletal frame work of the vehicle is on the verge of falling apart. The interior of such cars is nothing to write home about. The Seats are barely stable. The only thing keeping the seats in place are rusted bolts that might even be dislocated at any point in time . The entire electrical system is exposed. Drivers ignite the cars by twisting and connecting wires beneath the steering wheel to get it moving. In some cases , the bus requires a little push over a distance from fellow drivers at the station and sometimes passengers, to start moving. A change in direction , especially in a curve and it feels like the bus would tip over or fall onto its side. Most frightening aspect of this is that, vital parts of the vehicle such as the brakes sometimes do not function properly.
In an interview with the vice chairman of the kaneshie and Abossey Okai branch of The Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) , Mr Joshua Mensah says the reason why rickety trotros are inevitable in the system is due to poverty . He explains that spare parts of the vehicles are highly expensive and car owners find it difficult to fix their vehicles when it outlive the roadworthiness standards. Mr Joseph Mesnah denied claims that drivers unions do not entirely care about the shapes and roadworthiness of trotros that work under them. He says the GPRTU does hold regular stakeholders meetings to advise drivers and their owners on reasons why their vehicles should be in good shapes but in the long run, all attempts become futile due to economic hardship. He added that ,it is difficult to prevent rickety trotros from operating at lorry stations because it renders the drivers and car owners jobless. Mr Joseph Mesnah suggested that government should bring out policies that would make the importation of commercial vehicles tax free. He explains this would allow car owners to bring in better minivans than to rely on accident cars for a cheaper cost.
Adentwi Gilbert , a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism shared his life threatening experience using a rickety trotro in Accra " I went to see a friend at Nungua and right after eating I entered into this trotro because it was drizzling. I was in a hurry and I had not time to check if the trotro was in good shape or not. So about ten minutes into the journey, it started raining heavily. I was seated behind relaxed with my earpiece in my ear listening to some good music thinking all was well and safe . Ladies and gentlemen, can you believe this car has no wiper??like nothing and it got scary when he was now driving with his mind and not eyes. It is obvious he has been using that road often so he is quite familiar but still not enough reason to be driving without a working windscreen wiper . Sitting at the back I acted unbothered , I was just praying for this rain to stop so I feel at ease a bit because it was getting serious. Time went by and the rain stopped. I don't know how I got home but I did and I am still alive. "
The Drivers and vehicles licensing Authority and the National Road Safety Commission are institutions responsible for checking the roadworthiness of vehicles on our roads. Some say , the organizations have failed to perform one of its core duty , that is to get rid of rickety trotros. In an interview with Alhaji Huseini of the drivers and vehicles license registration department said the institution was on the rampage to get all 'rickety' vehicles off the roads. He stated that, the institution was doing its best to reduce old commercial bus vehicles from our roads. He also explained that, the DVLA was no being negligent. Rickety trotros are not granted road worthiness permit if they don't meet the necessary requirements. He added that, it was rather unfortunate policies made to clamp down rickety trotros are not fully implemented .
In a conversation with Mr. John Odoi , a trotro driver at the Circle trotro station , he says admits that rickety trotros pose a threat to the health and wellbeing of the passengers . The driver says blames government for the reason why there are a lot of rickety trotros in the system. He explains that, the prices of fuel in the country keeps on skyrocketing and it extremely difficult to save money from his daily earnings for regular maintenance. The Driver says he prefers to risk his life while driving a vehicle in terrible shape than sit home with no job .
Fortunately , there are very few reported cases of road accidents that involves trotros . But then, the more rickety trotros we see on our roads , the more we put our lives at risk. The distress that comes with using these minivans are unbearable hence organization such as the the Drivers and License Authority and National Road Safety commission must see to it that our roads are free of rickety trotros. Passengers should equally examine the physical condition of vehicles before they get on board.
GHANA INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISM (L300)