Members of the Ghana Committed Drivers Association (GCDA) say they do not support any plan to legalise the use of motorbikes for commercial purposes, otherwise known as “okada”. The drivers maintain that the okada business is against Ghana’s road traffic regulations and, therefore, must remain so.
Ghana’s Road Traffic Regulations 2012 (LI 2180) prohibit the use of motorbikes and tricycles for commercial purposes of any form. However, the flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress, John Dramani Mahama, has promised to legalise the business, should he win the 7 December elections.
“I’ve been seeing young people who have finished school and they can’t find a job, and so they are looking for something they can do.
“And many of our young people are riding motorcycles and transporting people from place to place, and we call them okada,” Mahama said during a campaign tour that took him to Kpando in the Volta Region.
“But in our law, it says okada is illegal. But okada is a reality: it has come to stay, you can’t stop it. And so, I’ve suggested and I say when we come into office, we will legalise okada, but we will regulate it.”
In a statement, the Committed Drivers Association described Mahama’s argument as preposterous. Members wondered why legalising motorbikes for commercial purposes was even being discussed, considering the number of deaths recorded yearly through motor accidents.
The drivers therefore called on President Akufo-Addo to take a stand on the matter with immediate effect.
“The preposterous argument made by former President Mahama that okada has come to stay, so it should be legalised, must be treated with the contempt it deserves. Who made it come to stay?” a section of the drivers’ statement said.
“What is the current ruling government saying on this subject matter? It may be recalled not long ago, taxpayers’ money was used by the Ministry of Transport on a nationwide stakeholders’ engagement tour, to solicit views on whether or not the okada operations should be legalised. As we write, there is a report on the nationwide stakeholders’ engagements sitting in cabinet to be deliberated upon.
“We have heard the former president Mahama. What is President Nana Akufo-Addo’s take on this menace that is taking away lives needlessly?” the statement said.
Riders welcome change in law
Meanwhile, some “okada” riders have welcomed Mahama’s promise to make their business legal.
President of the Okada Riders Association of Ghana, Michael Kofi Owusu, believes the business has cut down unemployment across the country. He said okadas have provided jobs for thousands of Ghanaians and have also helped to reduce robbery.
“Some of us are happy about the promise by Mr Mahama about legalising okada and we’ll vote for him to come back to power so he does it for us.
“When okada is legalised, we won’t be riding in haste and also be running from the police. When the police arrest you, you either pay GHC50 or GHC100 after being delayed for a long time,” Owusu told Starr FM.
“If it’s only about accidents that’s why they don’t want to legalise okada, then I’m sorry, because there are so many accidents in this country that do not concern okada.”
E A Alanore