Trotro etiquette – a tourist’s guide to using Ghana’s local transport
By Daniel Neilson|
If you are in Ghana and you plan to move around a lot, you might want to consider using a trotro. They are the most affordable means of transport in Ghana and can be found almost everywhere. For the average Ghanaian, trotros are pretty easy to use but from the outside looking in, it could be utterly confusing for non-locals. On the upside, it does not take much to become accustomed to the four wheeled wonder.
To begin with, trotros are not owned by any major transport company, they are mostly owned by the drivers and as such are only bound by Ghana road safety regulations.
How to get on
Unless they are full, trotros stop at every bus stop along their route. If you are not standing at a bus stop, you usually have to flag them down. Most trotro drivers are very vigilant and will stop once they see you.
No departure and arrival time
Trotros do not operate on departure and arrival times, the idea is to make as much money as they can on one trip so they only move from the stations once they are filled to capacity (which could actually be overcapacity). However, if you are lucky to pick a trotro already on its way, you won’t have much waiting to do.
To make sure you do not get lost, you should have a conversation with the conductor (mate) about your destination to determine the best drop off point for you.
Because the fare is paid on board, getting change back from the conductor is a hustle; it's one man taking money from about twenty or more people. To avoid this, you should always carry change.
Heavy luggage is usually strapped to the top of the buses and you are permitted to bring almost anything (even livestock) on board.
When a trotro is approaching a drop off point, the conductor (mate) calls out the name of the stop and passengers who plan to get off yell out “Bust Stop” in response. If you are not sure exactly where to get off you should have already had a conversation with the conductor (mate) about your destination, he will signal you when your stop is up next. In case you did not, remind him at every stop.