If you stay in Ghana and you take trotro as a means of transportation on a somewhat regular basis, you have definitely witnessed some drama on the road. Whether it’s a fight over 10 pesewas (which is very valid because the mate would never spare you if you owed him :p) or a mate getting annoyed because passengers are putting too much pressure on him to give them change or a driver getting angry because a passenger insists on getting down at a place that is only a bus stop when the driver wants to pick up someone but not when he has to drop someone or passengers lambasting a “preacher” because his preaching is centered more on money than God, it is always quite dramatic and sometimes hilarious. I know you have definitely witnessed one of these but I doubt you have witnessed what I witnessed. Which is why I want to share this with you!
On that fateful day, I picked a car from Madina to Ashaiman a journey of about 30km that can take about 45 minutes when traffic is quite minimal. As usual, the mate began collecting the fare right after we had left the station. Somewhere on the dual carriageway around IPS junction, while the driver was in the inner lane, a passenger in the front seat told the driver to stop. The driver was visibly confused and so was I. Why is a passenger asking the driver to stop barely 3km into the journey? The answer came right then because it was an “urgent” situation. Apparently, as the passenger was giving his fare to the mate, his money had flown out of the window. All this while, the driver was still moving (obviously) and so he was now too far away from where the money had fallen. Stopping would therefore have made no difference but the passenger persisted. The driver kept insisting that there was no way he could have stopped, one because there was no bus stop there and secondly because he was in the inner lane. The passenger was very annoyed with the driver because he had lost 20 Ghana cedis which was meant to pay the fare for four people. As the communication went back and forth, tempers rose and it turned into insults. The insults started on a small level and kept increasing as the level of annoyance of both the driver and the passenger increased. The driver by that time was in traffic so he had the “freedom” to concentrate on the argument. And then! Guess what happened next? A punch came from the passenger and this was followed promptly by a punch from the driver. Oh, I forgot to mention. There was a passenger sitting in between the driver and the angry passenger. More about this guy later. Let’s call him the silent observer.
After the passenger received his punch, he got very annoyed, opened his door and walked across to the driver’s side. Uh-oh! The mate and another concerned passenger quickly ran over to the driver’s side to prevent our angry passenger from opening the driver’s door. Meanwhile, in the car, an elderly woman who had been advising the driver and the angry passenger with a motherly tone to let go of the issue quickly prompted the passenger sitting next to her to move to the front seat. They were both on the first seat. She then turned to me (Yes! I played a role :-)) in my seat beside the mate to move to the first seat with her. That way, the only seat left for the angry passenger would be the seat next to the mate. At least that would keep him as far away from the driver as possible.
Did I say only seat? Well, it was until my most favourite characters played their part. Two ladies who were also on the seat next to the mate decided there had been too much violence for them to stay in the vehicle. Of course, they didn’t say that with direct words but proved it with action. They picked their bags and with grim expressions walked out of the car. They did it so swiftly as though they didn’t want anyone to change their mind. And yes, people did try to talk them out of it. One of course because they felt the ladies were overreacting but also because they had gotten down at a point between Okponglo and Shiashie, where it would be almost impossible to get another direct car to Ashaiman. Oh, I laughed at them in my head and my heart. They made my morning!
By this time, our physical fight had been prevented by the mate and the concerned passenger. The driver was still insulting the angry passenger who was now sitting beside the mate not saying a word. Some minutes later, when all was calm in the vehicle, the angry passenger called out to the passenger in the front seat, the silent observer (He mentioned his name, but it’s lost in my memory). It was only then that I noticed that they actually knew each other. This passenger had stayed quiet throughout the entire fight as though he had never seen the angry passenger before. I found that both funny and smart. Anyway, the angry passenger asked the silent observer to pass his bag to him. He took another 20 cedis and paid the fare for himself and the three other people he was commuting with. I kind of respected him for that.
I got down at the last stop so I know for sure that no other drama happened in the vehicle. Hehe.
If you know me well, you know I narrated my dramatic ride to my family when I got home. Can you imagine that my parents actually felt I had risked my life by staying in the vehicle? Their favourite characters were also those ladies who left the vehicle but for different reasons – they believed the ladies had been the most sensible passengers. I’m rolling my eyes. Parents…