Ride-hailing services in Ghana have helped to transform the transport sector over the past few years and they continue to garner high patronage from members of the public.

After breaking the monopoly taxis had, they have also brought comfort and ease of accessibility to commuters.

However, these comfortable private rides come at a cost not many can necessarily afford. So, they have resorted to other means of paying off their rides.

One, some of these drivers say, is the offering of sexual favours by some female passengers as payment for their trips.

This payment and barter system is fast becoming so common that it has its own term – clitocoins.

Clitocoins involves situations in which some female passengers attempt to seduce online drivers – particularly those who work in the night – by holding, for instance, their male sex organ to avoid paying.

In other instances, they forcefully kiss the drivers, seize their phones and car keys to ground the vehicles until the drivers agree to make love with them.

“I picked one [and] when we got to her destination, and she was supposed to pay for the ride, she told me she doesn’t have money and, so, what she can do is I should just have sex with her for payment….But I refused,” Kofi Taylor – not his real name – recounted.

“Normally, some would sit in front of you and try dressing up. I have even experienced one in which the person – the lady – had to change her whole clothes on me and she asked me whether I am interested and I told her I am married.”

“She was a very beautiful girl – it happened around Legon. To my surprise, this girl just held my head, kissed me, then she removed my car key from the knob. She said I should have sex with her,” another online driver told 3news.com.

One thing is for sure for these drivers under the circumstances – lost sales.

This is because whether or not these drivers accept the sexual favour, it means they usually end up with no cash payment.

Female drivers are also at the receiving end of these forms of harassment from male passengers.

Sex exchange or barter?

This worrying trend brings to bear the old barter system of trade, which is still relevant today and a preferred choice of commerce for many people.

A lecturer at the Department of Sociology, University of Ghana, Dr Peace Tetteh, is hesitant in describing the act as “shocking”.

She attributes females offering such sexual favours to harsh economic conditions.

“You call it barter [but] I will say it is a sex exchange. I wonder how a woman would have money in her purse and rather offer her body. If you want to engage in a barter or exchange, you want to exchange value for value. How much is a ride that would require me giving my body or offering sex to get?” she quizzed.

“Women’s economic empowerment is key. The reason a lot of people succumb to these other options is because they don’t have the economic wherewithal. It’s a survival strategy but one that comes with a lot of risks.”

Other drivers who were yet to experience the ‘clitocoin’ business say they are prepared to resist the offers and insist on cash payment from their riders.

Some online drivers accept the sexual offers, others reject them but it all depends on their individual orientations and socialisation.