As part of activities to marking the West Africa Road Safety Organisation (WARSO) day, the National Road Safety Commission has given indication it will lead processing to review the law on the use of motorbikes for commercial purposes, commonly referred to as Okada.
Per the Ghana Road Traffic Regulations Act 2009, the use of motorcycles for commercial purposes is illegal but various interest groups have mounted pressure on governments to legalize the trade all to no avail as yet.
But the commission says it is committed to leading the process that will lead the review of the law that bars the commercial use of motorbikes, possibly making it legal. It is however calling on motorbike riders and all road users to exercise a high sense of discipline on the road because of the alarming statistics on motorbike related accidents.
Following a decision by Driver, Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, to kick against the proposed legalization of “Okada” operations, some ‘okada’ riders had in the past demonstrated to register their concerns.
Deputy Minister of Interior, Henry Quartey in 2017 added his voice to the many calls for a revision of the laws regulating the use of motorcycles for commercial purposes stating that “We would want to humbly plead with your august committee, in your report to see how best we can put some measures in place to ensure that there is a balance between the usage of motorbikes in the country.”
According to the National Safety commission, ‘Okada’ operations in the country is a major issue that the commission will use the West Africa Road Safety Organisation day as an opportunity to address.
Executive Director of the commission, lng. (Mrs.) May Obiri-Yeboah said, “It has been ten good years of knowledge transfer and partnerships that have benefitted our region. During the period we have worked together to promote the use of retro-reflective tapes for some classes of vehicles to improve vehicle conspicuity and also reflect on the consequences for using motorcycles for commercial purposes in the sub-region. With the benefit of these learnings, we are poised to confront the ‘Okada’ issue as they have become a major road safety concern”.
This year’s observation of the day will be a decade since its existence and it’s themed “”WARSO in the Last Ten Years: the Journey So Far’.
The West African Road Safety Organization was established on May 8, 2008 under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Its mandate is to promote safe road transport in the sub-region through knowledge and experience sharing among member countries. It has since observed May 8 each year as the WARSO day to help raise and increase awareness of road safety issues in the sub-region.
This year member states will seize the opportunity to reflect on the theme and discuss key challenges affecting safe road transport systems in the sub-region.