Rush hour in Accra’s traffic is never a pleasant sight. It is brazenly chaotic and messy. Especially when traffic lights are not functioning and no warden from the MTTD or even a benevolent person is on the spot to direct traffic, the situation makes one wonder if motorists struggling to undo each other to get out of the melting chaos really have their brains at the right places.
Even the seemingly educated person in a corporate or smart casual outfits behind a wheel, behaves like a raging bull in the famous Spanish bullfighting game, corrida de toros. In that chaos, most often than not, patience is never a virtue; one needs to embrace madness to be able to get out of the situation. Whoever succeeds then speeds away without looking back.
The truth is that most often than not, in such situations, it is the trotro drivers (commercial bus drivers) who successfully squeeze their way through the mess. Because they do not care whoever their cars scratch in the chaos, what do they stand to lose if their cars scratch another one? It does not even register in their books.
And as they speed away by pollute, releasing traces of toxic fumes into the environment, the private drivers are left seething with rage. Almost everyone has had an unpleasant encounter with a trotro driver. I have had my own share and continue to have them.
I was on my way from the airport last week Friday. The rains were impatiently waiting to break free from the clouds. A heavy wind swept through the atmosphere, forcing commuters on foot to dash in different directions. Soon it began to drizzle. I rushed to the bus stop, flagged down a Tema-bound trotro to stop. I hopped into it and found a seat at the back. “Officer, push for the lady to sit down,” the mate told me in a hurried tone.
Another lady sat next to me. She squeezed me to the corner and placed her black handbag on her lap, sized me up as if to suggest I was not going to have access to her bag. She called out a street hawker selling plantain chips and bought one, but the price set her in a state of monologue.
She will put one chip in her mouth and go on a long rant about the price. The traffic to the roundabout was moving at a snail’s pace which means I had to endure her protestation until we got to Accra Mall, where I came off and got into a Prampram-bound shared taxi. The drive was smooth with no interruptions until we got out of the TT Brothers traffic light, where a trotro driver, without any signal, drifted to the other end of the outer lane to the bus stop.
Instead of apologising for what he did, he rather abused the driver he had just crossed. “Is the road for your parents or you will fold it to your father’s house,” he said with a mean face. The traffic at this stage was not moving because other vehicles coming from the Free Zones enclave had spilled over to the main road.
Frustrated drivers were honking their horns from every direction but these drivers who had blocked the road did not pay them any attention. You can even die in the traffic, the face of one of them appears to suggest that. Suddenly this same trotro driver wafted his way through the gridlock from an unapproved route, further compounding the gridlock.
His positioning made it difficult for anyone to move, though the way had been cleared from the earlier interruptions. Finally when he managed to get himself out, his side mirror was gone. He did not even care, as he drove away.
Other cars chased after him toward the direction of the Kpone barrier. He drifted off the main road in order to beat the chain of cars trapped in there. Traffic. He drove on the shoulders until an Aboboyaa prevented him from going any further. He attempted cutting back onto the main road but was stopped by the other cars on the main road. Again, he accused a lady in a Toyota Landcruiser of being inconsiderate. “As for women, as soon as they learn how to drive, they become wicked.”
Other cars also drove very tight to the woman’s and made sure the trotro driver did not have his way. I looked through the mirror and saw a chain of other trotro drivers coming through from the shoulders. The slightest movements of cars on the road, the trotro drivers will attempt forcing their way back onto the main road. Rather than plead to be allowed to join the main road, these drivers kept forcing themselves onto the road – but without any success.
Frustrated, one of them attempted squeezing the bus between two private cars. He was never lucky; he hit the back of the car, a Honda CRV. The driver was so furious he came out and slapped him twice across the face. Instead of apologising for his mistake, he rather accused the driver of the CRV for not paving the way for him to pass.
Other cars who drove by encouraged the CRV driver to ‘discipline’ the trotro driver. I honestly do not know how the issue was resolved but this same driver, as if by destiny or spiritual chokehold, minutes later around Afienya junction, repeated the exact act that had earlier landed him in trouble.
I shook my head and laughed.