An Ode to the ‘trotro’ Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponent, As you may well be aware, the man Otanka has been behaving and talking very childish since he came out to publicly deny media reports which suggested that he was dead. I get the impression that he is still struggling to convince Ghanaians that he’s alive. A few weeks ago, I saw him on all the TV news bulletins munching some doughnuts like a hungry child from Somalia. The unspoken statement he made then was, “look I am eating, do ghosts eat?” Shortly thereafter, he addressed a meeting in Accra and virtually begged those in attendance to realize the importance of his ministry. He said something to the effect that his ministry, that is the modernization part, is doing so much to let Ghanaians know that his “appointment was not useless after all.” It was very gratifying, hearing Otanka attempt so desperately to convince Ghanaians that he is still very important in my scheme of things even though he’s been sliding to the lower rungs of the elephant ladder in recent months. Gone are the days when he was the man in charge of presidential affairs (i.e. responsible for the type of t-roll I used, the ‘pieto’ I wore and the potency of the ‘apio’ I should drink etc.) Then he had my ear 24 hours a day, because I trusted him. Then he acted silly (I am shy to speak about what he did exactly) and so I decided to make him my gong-gong beater. He behaved silly again by beating the gong-gong by heart (with such monotonous regularity) at very odd hours. So I put him in charge of cleaning the filth in Accra. This is a job I expected Otanka to do with his mouth firmly shut, making only some whining noises to show remorse and anger at a job he cannot do. Alas, for Otanka, keeping the upper lip on the lower one is as difficult as it is for me to stop globetrotting. All of a sudden, he is claiming that my mass transport system is under his ministry. Which ministry? Tourism or Filth Cleaning? If mass transport is under Otanka, then what is the Transport Ministry for? I know I have done a lot of wrong things since I ascended the Black Star Stool, but please, tell Otanka to credit me with some wisdom. How dumb does he think I am to put mass transport under filth cleaning? As if claiming the mass transport system as his own was not insulting enough, he had the temerity to announce that plans are afoot to ban the use of the ubiquitous and all important ‘trotro’ after the 2004 elections. My sincerest apologies to all trotro drivers and the long-suffering Ghanaians for whom the ‘trotro’ is the choicest mode of transport. I have never discussed any plans with Otanka to stop the ‘trotros’ from operating. I am told that before Otanka opened his mouth too wide to make the unilateral declaration he was seen devouring a whole chicken. He is like that. When his stomach is filled he tends to develop a lose tongue and a fickle mind. Do forgive him and be assured that I cannot stop ‘trotro’ drivers from operating. I cannot create a mass transport system right after my re-election in 2004. Just consider this – it’s been almost three years since I announced that I will create a mass transport system. After that promise, how many buses have I brought into this country for mass transport? Less than one thousand, right? Do you think I have the money to import more buses to replace the estimated 10,000 trotros currently operating in Accra alone? I can’t. I remember those days when I was not such an excellent one and I had to join long queues to board a ‘trotro’. I actually don’t miss those days when I used to stand at the ‘trotro’ station and got my ear dream assaulted with the shouts of those disrespectful ‘aplankes’. Sitting in a ‘trotro’ is an experience I will like every Ghanaian to cherish. Shame on all those rich Dada Bs and Mama Bs who have never sat in a ‘trotro’. I guess Otanka is one of them and he does not know what it feels like to sit in a trotro. That explains his haste to get the trotro services banned even though he is not responsible for how Ghanaians get themselves transported in their own country. And what is all this I hear about him denying what he said? Perhaps, he is telling all Ghanaians, including my excellent self, that we are suffering ‘auditory hallucinations’. Or did he say that he did not actually mean to say that the trotros will be banned? For all its efficiencies, I think the trotro system serves a very useful purpose, especially in Accra. The mass transport system was put in place to make up for the inefficiencies of the trotro but I am sad to report that those I placed in charge of this pseudo-modern system have failed to do their work as expected. Already, a lot of them, especially the conductors on the buses, are exhibiting professional dexterity in pocketing the lorry fares. Their day of reckoning will come. For now, I will busy myself by getting Otanka to shut up. He should stuff his puffy cheeks with more chicken. Allow me to assure the trotro drivers and their ‘aplankes’ that I have no plans to throw them out of job. Not now! Even my attempts to provide more jobs openings in cassava farming, which demands less capital, are failing. Having said that, I will like all the trotro drivers to also bear in mind that I have a right to change my mind anytime after December 2004. After all I am the number one politician in this country and that I am the leading expert in economizing the truth. Your one and only, J. A. Fukuor
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