When Bismark Mensah lost his passport in Johannesburg in 2010 and could no longer travel to China to buy goods into his two shops at Kaneshie, he thought his life had come to an end but today he sees it as a hand of destiny to get him to move into another line of business not so prestigious but perhaps more lucrative.
After three years of ‘Borla Taxi’ business, Bismark is today the Chairman of the Ga Central ‘Borla Taxi’ Union and he is proud of it.
“Borla business is not embarrassing, and I have no regrets for getting involved”, he told the Daily Graphic in an interview.
Bismark recounted his frustration at his inability to travel back to China and how that ‘landed’ him in the sanitation business.
Presently, he has eight motorised tricycle and a Kia truck, and has employed 15 people including operators, a secretary, and an accountant.
Busy1 Enterprise, which is the name of Bismark’s company has an agreement with a traditional waste management company, Asadu Royal to collect solid waste from areas where he (Asadu) is unable to reach because of the size of his trucks.
In a day, Busy1 according to Bismark was able to collect from about 500 households and institutions.
Like Bismark, there are many young people, largely men who entered the ‘Borla Taxi’ business and are thriving.
Encounter with Mr. Frimpong
Mr Kwame Frimpong was into ‘Made-in-Ghana’ goods but had to divert into the sanitation business following a prophecy from his Pastor.
“I was initially not happy with the prophecy, and advise from my Pastor to move into ‘borla’ business but today I am happy I listened”, he stated.
Mr Frimpong is the Chairman of the Ablekuma North Motor Waste Union and has currently employed six operators to whom he pays GHc30 daily.
Orlando1 on the average collects refuse from about 100 households at Ablekuma with each truck raking in about Ghc200 daily.
“I collect about 10 tons of refuse a day. This is not scientific but my eight years’ experience on this job helps me to calculate the weight”, he stated.
There are many other young people whose survival today depends heavily on the tricycle business. Mr John Bosco, Chairman of the Okaikoi South Motor Union, Mr Isaac Afful, Chairman of Ga South, and Oheneba Adonye Kwame Jumbo, Secretary to the Kasoa Union shared similar experiences.
For these people, the ‘Borla Taxi’ business is more than just about sanitation. “It is about the survival of us the young people because it is creating jobs for most of us’ but this is just one side of the story.
Despite the lucrativeness of the business, many of the operators have had series of encounters with traditional solid waste collectors, some of which have been quite unpleasant.
Some have without prior approval or knowledge of assigned solid waste contractors moved into areas to work.
What however, breaks the camel’s back is the fact that they charge lower rates and collect the rubbish daily which makes them preferred over the traditional waste contractors who collect at least twice a week and charge fees approved by the assemblies in their areas of jurisdiction.
Story by Naa Lamiley Bentil