The experience of moving around in Ghana by tro-tro can give you a peek into the local culture and way of life of Accra like no other transport can!
We know traveling by tro-tro can seem a little scary at first or even confusing, especially if this is your first time in an African country. It’s definitely not the most comfortable means of transport and it can take much longer for you to get somewhere as opposed to taking an Uber.
This is a reason why from Green Views we suggest you try it out at least a couple of times.
The origin of tro-tro
Tro-tros are the local and cheap way to move around Ghana. They are shared minibuses that can take up to 15 people.
This term is said to have originated from the GA word “tro” which means “threepence”. These were the penny coins used in Ghana during colonial days when the local transport used to charge passengers three pence per trip.
Take into consideration that Accra does not have a proper public transport system. This means that trains, metro or buses are not available (buses are only used to travel longer distances outside of Accra), thus contributing to the ever growing problem of heavy traffic. Fortunately there are some ways to avoid traffic in Accra.
Moving around by tro-tro in Ghana
Every tro-tro is composed by the driver and a mate. The mate is in charge of calling out the direction the tro-tro is going, opening and closing the door for people to get on and off and collecting the money.
There is also the “pseudo mate”, who are based at the main stations or around the various bus stops in the city and help the tro tro mates to “shado” (load) their buses. This can be an interesting experience to watch as many times it is like a competition amongst the pseudo mates to see who gets the most people to load on the tro tro.
Then finally, we also have the people who sell coins and bills in smaller denominations. This is very important for mates because they always need to have change on them to give back to the passengers. For example, he can buy 1GHS change for 1,20GHS.
All the tro-tros have fixed routes and depending from where you pick the tro-tro (whether it is a main station or on the road) you will have to wait for it to fill up for it to move.
Something interesting about the tro-tros is the inscriptions/messages you will find on them. Some are romantic, some are religious, some are about family problems and some even insulting. Next time you get on a tro-tro or see one, take a look and let us know what message you spotted ☺
The equivalent of a tro-tro in other African countries is the dala dala in Tanzania, the matatu in East Africa or the sept place in Senegal.
Some of the main tro-tro stations in Accra
Here is a list of some of the main stations you should know in Accra, and whenever you are lost you can always head to one of these and you will surely find a tro-tro heading towards the direction you need:
Accra Tema station
One of the main stations in the heart of Accra (Makola market area). This is the best station to travel from if you want to follow any of our recommendations of the top tourist sites in the Volta region.
If you want to head over to Kakum National Park or Cape Coast castle, some of the must see places in Ghana, you should pick a tro-tro from here Takoradi direction.
This is one of the stations you could take a tro tro to get to Green views Residential. However, because it is a main station as we mentioned before, they will wait for the car to be fully loaded and that may take hours. Your best bet in this case would be to simply stand at the bus stop by Maxmart 37 direction Madina and get off at “Shangrila” stop and walk from there.
This is one of the most hectic areas and you should be careful with your personal belongings (there have been cases of pickpocketing). In this station you will also find the Circle VIP station from where buses head out to many locations such as Kumasi or Tamale.
This is a good station if you are heading to the area of Ada Foah and want to visit some of the most stunning beaches and resorts in Ghana.
Osu has a main tro-tro bus stop from where tro-tros head into different directions, mainly 37, circle and madina. You will find the stop at the very end of Oxford street, the last traffic light.
Not Accra tema station but Tema station, located approximately 30 minutes from Accra. This is a great point to head to different locations such as Akosombo, Ho or Ada Foah as well. A fast way to get to this station is by heading to the bus stop which is opposite Accra Mall and taking a shared taxi directly to Tema station.
Of course there are many more stations around Accra than the ones we mention, but this is for you to have an idea of the directions. As we were explaining in the section above, one of the roles of the mate is to shout out the final destination the tro-tro is going to. These are some of the most important station names you should remember.
Sometimes you may encounter difficulties to understand the pronunciation of some of these names but again, through experience you will master it and even end up pronouncing it the same way as they do!