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Otto Life Stories #3: Edward

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Edward reveals how switching careers to PCO driving helped him keep him in touch with his own children, which riders are the best tippers and shares the secrets of Ghanaian food. 

How long have you been a PCO driver?

I’ve been with Otto Car since 2019, so about three years ago, but it’s six years in total.

Why did you choose to be a private hire driver? 

I was a project manager in commercial construction but often worked in a different city for a week or two. I wanted flexibility to take my children to school and to make time for them. 

How many kids do you have?

I have five children (laughs). 

Wow. Five is almost enough for a football team? 

Yes. It’s me and my dad – and the children. It’s a big family and so I needed a bigger car. This is why I got a Mercedes Vito and because it is expensive I’m paying it over four years.

PCO driver Edward looks confident with his car at Otto Car's Hammersmith Hub

Have you lived in London for a long time? 

I’ve been here 20 years and live in West Dulwich but I’m originally from Ashanti in Ghana.

What is Ashanti like compared to London?

Everything’s the same, nothing is different. It’s a big place – a very big place. I have extended family there who I visit every six months. They are all happy when they see me. 

What is the most stressful thing that’s happened while driving?

On my first day in this job, I picked somebody to go to Paddington. All of a sudden, my phone died and the charger did not work. But as it was my first day, I didn’t know the area. 

So you learned the importance of preparation? 

Yes. Since then, I check everything is working before I start work for the day. The tyre pressure, the engine, everything. And if you know the local environment, that helps too. 

What else have you learned about yourself by doing this job? 

I realised it makes me happy to help people. One disabled passenger took my number and now she always calls me in times of difficulty to come take care of her. We’re friends now.

PCO driver Edward looks confident with his car at Otto Car's Hammersmith Hub

Where can you find the best Ghanaian food in London? 

I always go to a place called Timber Gardens in Croydon. 

Timber Gardens. Is that because you worked in construction?

No (laughs again). It’s a restaurant. You should try the jollof rice – and the fufu. 

Sounds delicious but what exactly is fufu? 

It is made up of grated cassava with plantain and then you add soup to it. My favourite is the palm nut and hot pepper soup.

What are your plans for the future?

I am thinking to set up my own construction business when the children are a little older. In the meantime, PCO driving is the best job that I can do.

What advice would you give to the Otto drivers?

When you go to work, put in your mind that anything can happen at any time. No matter the age of the car or experience of the driver. This is the way to keep everyone safe. 

So you are saying to expect the unexpected? 

Yes. Always check the car before you start and keep in mind that anything can happen. Also, Americans give the best tips. That must be the way they do things in America.

PCO driver Edward looks confident with his car at Otto Car's Hammersmith Hub

Want to learn more?

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