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Okada: Ghana’s Next Time-Bomb?

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Ghana’s internal security is being dragged to a precipice, with a possible crash-landing, if nothing drastic is done about the issue of the uncontrolled proliferation of commercial motorcycle (Okada) in the country.

Even though handlers of our security have recently scored some good marks in its handling of galamsay and some nagging chieftaincy disputes, indications are that ‘Okada’ can cause greater security havoc, unless we act.

The phenomenon has creeped silently into our mainstream public transportation system, and before we could realize, it had become an albatross.

Not only have they taken over our cities, these riders operate with impunity, as if it is their God-given right to promote their illegal business.

Even though the head of education at the Motor Traffic and Transport Department [MTTD] of the Ghana Police was reported to have recently called for a relook at the law that prohibits the use of motor cycles for commercial purposes, THE NEW PUBLISHER begs to differ.

Regulation 128 (1 – 4) of the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 explicitly states that: “The licensing authority shall not register a motorcycle to carry a fare-paying passenger.”

The law also prohibits any person from using a motorcycle or tricycle for commercial purposes except for courier and delivery services, while it also prohibits pillions from riding on a motorcycle or tricycle as paying passengers. Offenders are liable to fines or imprisonment.

The existing legislation notwithstanding, the patronage of this service is on the ascendency across the country.

 

In the view of the paper, the surge in the use of Okada is leading to rising incidents of crime, accidents, and violations of road traffic regulations.

 

Records from the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) say in 2014 alone, 2,571 people were knocked down by motorists out of which 1,856 lost their lives. In 2015, 2,289 motorcycles were involved in road crashes. The situation had since gotten worse.

 

Ahmed Suale, the fine journalist working with Tiger Eye, was shot and killed by criminals on Okada. Again, the people that besieged the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regional office in Kumasi and murdered that party’s taskforce member did so on motorbikes. The list can go on and on.

 

In our view, lack of political will had contributed to the Okada menace, and we can do something about it, just as our African neighbours succeeded in doing.

In Nigeria, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja, have banned commercial motorcycles from entering the city centres because they were seen as a means of quick get-away for thieves.

Similarly, in the northern city of Maiduguri, they were banned to prevent drive-by attacks by the radical Islamist sect, Boko Haram.

And just last month (July 9), Addis Ababa city commenced the enforcement of a ban on use of motorcycles in the Ethiopian capital for the same reasons.

THE NEW PUBLISHER thinks it is time for Ghana to also take the bold step in her own interest.

Okada may be a fast means of transport, but we agree with those who argue that safety in traffic is much, much better.

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