Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Taxi Tales#1: The driver's got Cheek!

I am a taxi person in the sense that I move around Accra a lot by way of taxi. Very rarely will I use the tro-tro, and now that the Mass Metro buses are becoming de rigeur, and even the new Gold Cab services, which is based in Kokomlemle, some minutes from Busy Internet at Circle, or the so-called Silicon Valley street of Accra, is stationing itself conveniently in ECOBANK agencies, to name but one, around the capital, I STILL will take the taxi anyday for the convenience, and when the pocket is a bit lighter;-)

The news that taxi drivers will be wearing uniforms is welcome news:

With effect from 1st February, all taxi drivers in the Accra Metropolis will dress in uniforms of sea blue shirts and dark blue trousers.

According to a press release issued by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, all taxi drivers in the Metropolis are also expected to pay ¢250,000 each to have an identification number embossed on the front doors of their vehicles.

This amount, according to the release is been heavily subsidised by the AMA.

The release noted that at a meeting held on January 18 this year chaired by the Mayor of Accra, Mr. Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson, executives and representatives of the GPRTU, PROTOA, Cooperative Transport Union and COMTSA came to the above agreement between members of the transport sector and the AMA.

The release explained that the identification number to be embossed on the taxi cabs would make for easy identification of taxis and help protect drivers from mugging and the frequent stealing of their vehicles.

Any attempt to bring sanity into the capital must go down very well for a lot of denizens. All that said, it is for one of these reasons that I am introducing taxi tales to bring directly to you some of the less-than-mundane experiences and conversations I have with taxi-drivers.

The first instance is yesterday when a taxi driver picked me up from the A&C Shopping mall. En route, his engine sputtered and came to a somewhat abrubpt stop. Opening the door, he went out to the engine for what seemed like a few minutes, came back and sparked the car. Off we went.

Now, I was heading for equity pharmacy, in East Legon, where we went for some seven minutes.

We got to the office, and I handed him ç15,000 (around Euros1.5), only for him to tell me that it wasn't enough, and that he wanted ç25,000!

The effing cheek, I thought.

So I asked him: "when your car sputtered on the road there, did I charge you?" He pretended he didn't hear [please note this characteristic of taxi drivers and commercial workers, when you tell them a truth, they will FEIGN BAD HEARING!!], asking "what did you say?"

I pretended I didn't hear him, and told him I was giving him ç20,000--and would not be giving him the ç5,000 extra.

He wasn't amused, but I certainly was;-)
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