Is It Time To Ban Trotros In Accra?


If you live in the city of Accra, you must know by now that the traffic situation is not that great and it is seemingly getting worse. I always dread going into parts of town where I know for a certainty that it will take me more than two hours to get from Point A to point B. Interestingly enough, if I were to use that same route on a day like Sunday, I could easily run that errand in 30 minutes.

You could chalk up the problem to bad town planning and incompetent city managers. There doesn’t seem to be any future plan for expansion of roads to allow for more flow of traffic. There are some new road constructions ongoing but you could easily see those new roads getting choked up with traffic when they eventually open. (See Tetteh Quarshie)

Public transportation doesn’t seem to be helping. The Metro Mass buses which are supposed to be helping ease traffic don’t seem to be contributing anything. The buses themselves are too big and wide for the small streets of Accra. They also tend to get stuck in the gridlock of traffic like the rest of vehicle drivers. I don’t even think the arrival of these Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) buses will help.

Why? Because the road infrastructure which is supposed to be built for these buses to drive on for them to be actual “rapid” buses seem to be missing from the equation. All in all, they just seem to be new buses which have a cashless pay system installed on them.

So how do we solve this conundrum? Here’s a novel idea: BAN trotro vehicles from the city.

Although I think that will be impossible, I think removing trotros from the roads in Accra will not only decrease traffic but actually make our roads safer.

Here’s my argument. On a daily basis, I travel from one part of town to another in my own car. During these travels, I cannot help but be stuck in traffic trying to get to my destination. When you’re stuck in traffic, you can’t help but observe your surroundings. As for me, I’m always observing trotros. I don’t have the research to back this up but it feels like 90% of the traffic caused in Accra are by trotro drivers. Trotros simply do not observe the rules of the road. They are reckless, unsafe, and dangerous to other vehicles and pedestrians. It would not surprise me if 3 out of 5 trotro drivers did not go through driving school to get a license. I even doubt that their vehicles passed the mandatory vehicle inspection to obtain a sticker for road worthiness.

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There is always some story in the news involving trotros and they are hardly positive. It’s always about a car accident because of over speeding or a brake failure resulting in an accident or blocking of roads for other vehicles to flow. Seriously, trotros are the scourge of the road. They are always crowding bus stops (which is illegal) which always results in the blocking of flow of traffic. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen broken pieces of glass on the road by a bus stop which is likely the result of a trotro hastily heading into traffic without paying attention to oncoming cars.

There is no safety with these vehicles. Even when the Driver Licensing and Vehicle Authority (DVLA) wanted all trotros to be loaded with seatbelts, there was a massive revolt which lead the DVLA to reverse their position. Why would owners of trotros not want their passengers to be safe? Because for them, it’s not about safety. Its about the quick money they have to make.

I have heard so many stories of trotros hitting pedestrians and the drivers bailing the vehicle and running helter skelter. It happened to a friend of mine who’s mother got hit by a trotro and the driver ran away. It even happened last week near my house where it looked like a trotro had hit someone on a bike and abandoned the vehicle right in the middle of the road with passengers standing alongside the road.

Even though I think banning trotros from the city could improve traffic and promote safety, I don’t think it’s going to work. For the moment, they are too dependable by people who can’t afford cars and don’t use the unreliable buses. For one thing, using a trotro is way cheaper than using a taxi. The trotro ride might be the most comfortable when it’s full but at least, it doesn’t hurt your pocket. If a ban of trotros took effect on a Monday, I can guarantee that a lot of people are going to call in late for work.

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But is this a discussion worth having? Should we really consider banning trotros on the road? As the city continues to grow and more high rise buildings and businesses come up, there will be demand for more cars on the road to transport people from one point to another. This will definitely lead to an increase in traffic. It will also definitely lead to increase in trotro vehicles.

If we had a more reliable public transport system, the issue of trotros wouldn’t even come up. But unfortunately, I think it’s come to this.

There’s some ways to make the traffic problems in Accra get better:

  1. Government has to build a more reliable transport system which involve buses and a rail passenger system.
  2. Impose a road tax on high traffic areas in the city. Vehicle owners who rely on those roads are more likely to pay the tax to use those roads while others will avoid it which will lead to less traffic on those roads. (Imagine a road tax on Oxford Street)
  3. Advance the building of highway road systems. If you can build highways with several lanes for vehicles traveling in one direction, it can help cut down traffic.
  4. Use my way: BAN trotros and focus on the BRT buses instead. Alternatively, if you don’t ban trotros, you instead standardize them. By standardizing, you make sure that all trotro drivers HAVE to undergo a vehicle licensing test. If they fail, they have to take it again until they pass the test. This will have to include a road test as well. They also make sure that their vehicles pass road worthy standards. I have seen too many pictures of trotros physically breaking down while in traffic. I once saw a sliding door of a trotro fall off while it was in motion.


Those are my thoughts. I don’t think people in government have the guts to adopt this. But if you want to do things the right way, you have to make harsh decisions that not everyone will agree with.

Banning trotros is a harsh decision. But its for the better for everyone in the long run