‘Okada business must be legalised’ – MTTD boss advises Gov’t

The Head of Education, Research and Training at the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) of the Ghana Police, Superintendent Alexander Obeng, has urged stakeholders in the transport sector to have a discussion on the activities of commercial Motor cycles in the country.

Popularly known as ‘Okada’, commercial motorcycle activities have inundated the national capital and other parts of the country as a means of basic transportation for citizens.

But Sup. Obeng says the fatalities from okada business is increasingly becoming alarming in the last two years– the main reason he wants policy makers to consider how best to regulate activities of commercial motorcycles.

Speaking on Dwaboase on Power 97.9 FM Tuesday morning Mr Obeng stated 1050 persons died of motorcycle crashes in the last 12 months.

Some Okada riders in Accra Central ready for patrons.

He expressed worry over the lack of regulation for okada business in the country, especially in Accra and suggested lives could be saved if the government consider legalising and regulating the business.

Asked whether the promise of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) prior to the 2020 elections to regularize and regulate Okada was laudable, Sup. Obeng said, “there’s nothing impossible” and added “government should consider adopting that [policy]”

Sup Obeng would want stakeholders, led by the government, to deliberate on the subject and find a lasting solution to the escalating fatalities associated with okada, as it has become almost a major means of transportation for residents of Accra and other parts of the country.

NDC Okada Policy

The NDC led by its flagbearer, John Mahama mounted a spirited campaign for the legalisation and regularisation of commercial motorcycle when elected to power.

The NDC said the decision was backed by research into okada activities and stakeholder consultations which pointed to the fact that okada had become an alternative mode of transportation for city dwellers and residents in areas like the Northern regional capital, Tamale; Aflao and Kpando in the Volta region; Bono East regional capital, Techiman; Dormaa Ahenkro, Drobo, Sampa, Berekum all in the Bono region as well as some other parts of the country.

Apart from creating jobs for thousands of young men, Mr Mahama said okada had become a reality the country had to embrace and regulate.

“…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 legalize Okada but we will regulate it,” Mr Mahama said when he adressed residents of Kpando in the run up to the 2020 elections.

In August last year, Mahama’s deputy campaign spokesperson Magaret Ansei stated the next NDC government they were forming has a fair appreciation of the sector and its contribution to the economy of the country.

Making a strong case for the legalisation of the venture, the former MCE for the Suhum Municipality stressed that okada business “is an avenue to create decent jobs for young men who have no access to jobs under the Akufo-Addo government which promised so much jobs but have delivered a handful.”

Explaining that an NDC government will initiate processes to amend the law that prohibits okada business when given the mandate, Madam Ansei also known as Magoo revealed that there were plans to give the riders training on road safety to enable them adhere to safety precautions and avert accidents.

“Currently, they [riders] don’t obey all the traffic regulations in order to be safe, however, when we train them and regulate their businesses they will be able to do their job safely and earn a decent income,” Magoo told Dwaboase host Kwame Minkah.

NPP MP Supports Okada Legalisation

Despite series of criticisms from government spokespersons at the proponents of okada legalization, especially Mr Mahama, a key NPP Member of Parliament supported the NDC leader’s call, indicating that the business was feasible.

“Personally looking at my constituency and that fact that many young people are involved in Okada business, if you ask me, I’ll say we should legalise Okada but we should legalise it in a way that will not bring disaster,” said Samuel Ayeh-Paye, who is MP for Ayensuano and the Chairman of Parliament’s Roads and Transport Committee.

Speaking on Accra-based Starr FM further Ayeh-Paye advised that the move should be done after a careful assessment of the risk and all other issues involved.

Okada Riders 

Following the promise from the NDC flagbearer, okada riders in the Greater Accra and elsewhere in the country did not hide their joy about the plans to regularise their business.

They expressed readiness to vote for the fromer president in the December polls, saying they deserved recognition as persons engaging in legal activities rather than to be “harrassed by police officers.”

To them, legalizing their trade will be a dream come through since the business is very lucrative albeit intermittent police arrests.

Kwasi Twumasi, a 35 year old father of two (2) and resident of Kasoa, who spoke to Power FM News could not hide his excitement after hearing Mr Mahama had pledged to legalize his business which earns him between GHS 100 and GHS 200 daily.

“I am not the only person who is excited. Our colleagues, including those who belong to the NPP have all welcomed the promise and can’t wait for Mahama to win,” he said.

Although they are aware of the risky nature of their job, most of them are willing to be trained when the business is legalized.

“See, I know a few of my colleagues who have completed Polytechnics and some trainee institutions who have not been posted but are happy doing okada business here in Accra. We are happy doing this work because a government work doesn’t pay well like what we earn here,” Twumasi revealed.

By Henryson Okrah|

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