Thursday, November 11, 2010

Of Truculent Tro-Tro drivers and Mass Metro Managers

For the past couple of days, I have been mulling over the state of this beautiful nation.

I don't quite get the fact that there's so much indiscipline. And when you get to that stage of wondering, you might inevitably wonder what it does to one's internal cosmology.

If it is true that the violence in society and the world--writ large--is a reflection of how inwardly-torn one is, then it's possible to segue into another discourse that says that the extent of indiscipline in this country can ineluctably affect one's attempts to improve oneself.

In the words of an X-files title, I like to *fight the future* whenever I can. I dream of this country having everything possible here--from natural resources to human resources--collectively making the nation better. I also like to think that a nation cannot gt better without complaints. I re-call back in Brussels, hearing a BBC Radio Four item on why the Brits like to complain about almost everything, and thought that's something that Africans probably ought to do more of to get change.

That was before I knew what "advocacy"meant!

So here I am--six years into  the life and loves of my country, continuing to complain...and occasionally getting results.

Off-late, the biggest complains has revolved around transport, as exemplified by Mass Metro ( which, frankly, is assuming a kind of structure not seen in the last administration. Unlike the last administration, for the past two years since they assumed power, buses have been arriving around a certain time. Ofcourse "around" is insufficient; better to have "at", but we live in hope in this country, so "half for do!" as Ghanaians like  to say. To wit: "better than nothing!"

So. Buses arrive around, say, 6.20pm every weekday in front of Accra Mall. Fine. Beyond the indiscipline of some commuters not waiting for those coming from the buses to come down before they try to board, you find that the bus driver--inexplicably--does not stop at every stop, but waits to hear shouts by commuters screaming "bus stop!!". I use the buzzer, and depress it annoyingly long enough, but I don't know how many people do.

That it is rarely used suggests that there needs to be some level of education even of the conduct of commuters.

I will be deliberately snobbish here, because it is important: many of those who board the buses are, frankly, (semi-)illiterate who are trying to save money, while contemporaneously avoiding the "waiting for Godot" cues formed at the tro-tro lines.

The cost of boarding is very cheap (the average fair to the Spintex Road on the bus is GHC0.30/30ghana pesewas, or 21 US cents, as compared to GHC0.60/60pesewas, or 42 US cents with tro-tro) so you can imagine why many--both middle class and otherwise--would want to board this form of transport.

But it's the attitude. I find both the tro-tro drivers and the mass metro drivers so truculent it's not funny. Which begs the question of  *where* to complain in the event of non-satisfactory performance. When I was in the central region a few weeks back, I saw one Mass Metro bus that was undergoing training for its workers. This suggests there is a level of monitoring and evaluation at some structure of the MMT somewhere.

But where exactly? Where do we go to complain about truculent drivers who remain obdurate about doing the right thing?

I need to start a campaign--and definitely not one fighting indiscipline, but one where we as taxpayers can hold our institutions accountable. First port of call are getting phone numbers. Up to now, I don't know which number to call to find out about the Mass Metro buses.

Truth be told, they're doing great things, and better things are to come.

But it should not be inconsistent with getting a hold of a phone number I don't think!

labels:mid-wk madness; mid-week madness; tro-tros

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