Stakeholders divided over legalising 'okada'

Major stakeholders within the transportation industry have held a forum in Accra to dialogue on the enforcement of a law to guide the operations of motorcycle riders, popularly referred to as ‘okada’ riders. At the stakeholder engagement organized by the Ministry of Transport in Accra on Tuesday, March 26, participants highlighted issues such as lack of employment, traffic situations and bad road networks in remote areas as key reasons why enforcement of the law on okada remained a challenge. Participants at the forum remained divided over the state of the law, and blamed lack of political will as the bane of law enforcement. Fatalities involving commercial motor bikes increased from 210 in 2010 to 437 by end of December 2016. 2011 recorded 313 deaths, moving up to 325 in 2012, 323 in 2013, up again to 356 in 2014 and 323 in 2015. The first 59 days of this year has already witnessed 411 deaths involving motor cycles. These crashes led to the promulgation of the Road Traffic Regulation, LI 2180 in 2012. Section 128, 1-4, of the regulation, prohibits the use of motor cycles or tricycles for commercial purposes However, implementation and enforcement of the regulation, remained a tall order for the police and other law enforcers, resulting in the wide spread of okada business across the country. The dangers posed by the phenomenon and its effects on road traffic safety prompted the Transport Ministry to begin a nationwide consultation to seek public view on best approach. The first regional meeting in Accra, split over the state of the regulation 2180. Speaking at the forum, the Director of Planning and Programmes at the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), ING. David Adonteng, said he is all for the passage of a law to commercialise activities of okada riders once the law will see to the safety of riders “My interest is how to protect the individual when they sit on the motorbike. If sitting on it will create a problem as regards deaths and injuries, automatically, I won’t go for it. “But if we are putting in mechanisms in the manner that will protect the individual whether we are using it for commercial or not commercial but the human being that is sitting on it is well protected with standards, regulations and enforcements, I think that should be the order of day.” Head of the Airport Divisional Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD), DSP Augustine Okanta Akrofi, however, opposed to any form of legalization. “I am not of the view that Accra should be banned, and the hinterland permitted. We should have one law for the country. In urban areas like Accra, we all know the reason for the use of the okada business, all because of the traffic congestion…For me, I think that if we will be able to do something about the traffic situation, then okada will die its natural death.” The second weekly forum takes place in the Volta Region and through the country towards a national consensus and possible amendments to the existing law.

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By Peter Quao Adattor||Ghana]]>