Tuesdays are routinely hectic. It’s difficult to point to the exact reason though. We closed from work at 6pm and unconventionally, especially on that day of the week, a couple of friends and I decided to do some small ‘sitting’.
It was one of those days when I decided to explore Circle (which would later be known as Dubai) and go home by one of the commercial buses which we call in our local parlance ‘trotro’.
Immediately I got to the Neoplan station, I overheard the conductor (mate) screaming…’Ashaiman, Ashaiman, last two!’
I contemplated whether to board or not. Why? This was a 207 mini Benz bus and anyone who has plied the Tema Motorway as many time or more than I have done, will not need an explanation. This particular 207 bus was painted red…I can vouch that it wasn’t sprayed by a professional. I was knackered and couldn’t wait for the next bus.
I jumped onto the bus and thinking with one more passenger, the bus would move soon but to my utter surprise, I was about only the 4th passenger on board. I ‘cursed’ the mate in my head and clambered to sit by the window so I would get some fresh air.
I got on my phone and started responding to messages and checking how my work was getting traction on social media. Then I raised my head and saw a lady selling tiger-nuts so I shouted ‘Atadwin wura’! She came over and I bought one. I began munching on the crunchy nuts while still enjoying some chats on my phone.
After a while, the bus became full and we were ready to move but the bus wouldn’t start. The driver tried a couple of times but nothing changed. He gestured to a few friends around to help push the car. After some back and forth, it started and we moved.
These two passengers who sat behind me started a conversation in Ewe. Then another two started to speak Dagbani and I knew it because I have a few friends who are Dagombas. A few spoke in Twi and I heard those two seated beside the driver in the front seat speaking Ga. That was when I clearly understood why people refer to Ashaiman as the United State. In fact you could hear every kind of language in the car.
But for this pretty young lady who was sitting beside me and myself, I think every other person was engaged in a conversation, one way or the other. The car was so noisy and I also wanted to start a conversation with this lady beside me but I couldn’t muster the courage. Poor me. What if she rudely shuts me down? I turned to talk to her anyway but saw her seriously typing out messages to different guys. I normally don’t do this…reading messages that aren’t meant for me but I got struck so I couldn’t blink.
To one guy, she said she needed some GHc 300 to fix her hair. One Derrick is asking her out for dinner and she replied that she didn’t have a dinner dress so he should send her some money so she could go get one before the dinner. And then to another, she needed money to pay the rest of her fees otherwise she wouldn’t be allowed to write her exams and she did quote any figure so I surmised this should be a sugar daddy. To the one whose name was saved BLACK PISTOL, she said she was on an emergency trip to see her mother in Sunyani so she couldn’t come over to him as they had agreed earlier. Then Jefferies asked her how far she was and she said the vehicle had just moved from circle. That conversation was too explicit, I can’t write what I saw here but it was clear those two were going to have some real fun. In fact she was focused and engrossed that she didn’t realize I was reading her messages all that while.
Then all of a sudden almost everybody shouted ‘Jesus’. The driver stopped suddenly to avoid hitting the car in front of ours. Some hurled insults at our driver for driving recklessly while those who saw the incident blamed the driver of the car in front of ours. Now our bus wouldn’t start again. Our driver tried and tried amidst vituperative curses from the passengers but he remained adamant and kept trying his luck. Luckily, he was able to start the bus so we continued.
All this while, the driver never said a word. He received bashing from every language on board the car but he remained unfazed.
“These drivers are only concerned about money. They don’t care about the condition of their cars. Look at how rickety this car is. Greedy drivers all over”, some of the passenger blurted.
All this while we were at Tesano, near the Police Training School, and in heavy traffic. The vehicle kept showing clear signs that it would only take a miracle to get us to our destination. It kept jerking and coughing in the traffic.
When we got to the N1, this middle aged man cast invectives and insinuations at the driver and got off, hurling curses.
This road looked quite good for the driver because it was straight and smooth. We managed to go through till we got to the Dzorwulu traffic light where we experience a little hitch but we had become used to it so after a while, we continued. But in all of these, what I couldn’t fathom was how this moving ‘coffin’ got its road worthy certificate…that’s even if it had one at all.
We drove on quite well from there because we had hit the motorway. Just after the Action Chapel, it started raining heavily…like the days of Noah.
Then we realized that it was as if the car had no roof. The rain was dripping badly into the car and everyone was getting drenched. After a few meters, the driver couldn’t see ahead because the car’s wipers weren’t functioning. “Hell no! Not on the motorway”, I said to myself. Now I was becoming increasingly concerned. The driver parked and we heard his voice for the first time. Soft, shrill and effeminate. At least the kind of voice you need to drive this kind of car. He called the mate to take the duster and clean the windscreen so he could see his way clear. It was still raining heavily and here, you had no option. No one had an umbrella and you dared not get down on the motorway at that time of the night. That would be the most egregious mistake you could make as you would most certainly get robbed and no car would stop to pick you on the motorway because they see neatly dressed people as decoys used by armed robbers. The reason drivers rarely stop on the motorway. The mate’s job was not exactly fruitful but the driver managed to drive through till we got to the toll booth.
Here too, the mate had to get down to wipe the windscreen. A few meters down the toll booth, we saw smoke coming from the driver’s side. Some passengers tried to jump out through the window in a frantic attempt. Then one elderly man, who had been quietly observing events all this while said the smoke was normal due to the sharply contrasting weather conditions. Honestly, his explanation didn’t make any sense to me but at least it calmed nerves. The driver parked on the shoulders of the road, tried to fix a thing or two, and then we continued. At this point, I realized we didn’t have to deal with the car’s starting problem but how the driver would see ahead was our main issue. Thankfully, the complaints had stopped because we all realized that there was little we could do than to give the driver all the support he needs to slowly get us to our destination.
The rain stopped around King’s Cottage and slowly but surely, we got to our destination, albeit with bated breath. I got down, went straight to the driver and thanked him for using his ‘experience’ to bring us safely. I however advised him that if the car wasn’t his, he should return key to the ‘car-owner’ otherwise sooner than later, he may get burnt in this car altogether…then sighed and asked me sorrowfully, “hmmm boss, what will me and my children eat if I return the key to my car-owner?