Yes, trotro mates have rights too!
I sleep in the back seat of my master’s trotro, so I would obviously be grumpy when I wake up. You think the trotro seats are uncomfortable to sit on? Try sleeping a whole night on one, coupled with the interference of those disrespectful mosquitoes.
I don’t have the luxury of a bathroom, so I wash my face and rinse my mouth with a sachet of water. Come rain or shine, dawn or dusk, my job is to yell at the top of my lungs until the car is full. Those in the stations have it easy. At least, over there, people know where to find which car. My domain is the bus stop and I have to wrestle with about five other cars going in the same direction. After that, some self-appointed bus stop warden will come and bully me for small change.
My main problem is with you, the passengers. I don’t understand those of you who give me 50 cedi notes for a 1 cedi journey early in the morning. And when the fuel prices go up, and the transport prices along with them, don’t argue with me about what to charge. I am not the problem here, Mahama is!
Don’t complain when I hound you for your money. A number of people have run away without paying the fare, I don’t intend to have that experience again. Don’t act as if it is my duty to hold your bag, carry your child or adjust your iron rods when you are alighting, and yell indignantly when I don’t. My contract with you is to get you from one place to another. Helping you is out of courtesy, it is not my duty. And when I call out the bus stops, respond in time!
I am an island. I don’t really have anyone on my side. I am the one who gets attacked when the trotro roof is leaking. I am the one who is jostled by the passengers when the car breaks down. I am the one the station masters pick on. I am the one who has to stand in the rain or the scorching sun to look for passengers. And yet, nobody fights for me.
When the passengers are attacking me for change or about the increase in the fare, the driver is silent, even though I am the one who begs the other drivers to allow us to turn when there is traffic. When the driver is yelling at me for not shouting ‘Circ-Odorkor’ loudly enough, the passengers don’t defend me.
I have rights! I also have feelings..
Signed Nii Ashie,
Trotro Mate since April 2006.
©Maukeni Padiki Kodjo, 2014