Okada is the business of using motorcycle or motor tricycle for passenger transport or commercial purpose just like a taxi will do. It is broadly defined to include motor tricycles popularly called ‘aboboyaa’, ‘yellow-yellow’, ‘gbambila’, etc.; and narrowed referred to motorcycles.
Arguments Against Okada Business
Some of the arguments made against the legalization of Okada include:
(1) It is risky. Yes! It is risky. Okada operators ride dangerously putting their lives, passengers and pedestrians into danger.
(2) Okada riders don’t respect traffic signals. Yes! They drive at any available space and hardly respect traffic signals.
(3) It is one of the major cause of road accidents and deaths. Yes! In 2018, the Transport Ministry found that proportion of motorcycle fatalities had increased from 2.7% in 2001 to 21% in 2016 as a result of the Okada business. Also, National Road Safety Commission estimates that the chance of dying from a motorcycle crash is 10 times higher than a car crash. In January 2020, the Ghana Medical Association called for ban of Okada when they were reporting high accidents and fatalities at various hospitals.
Note: The above sad records of Okada are mostly due to the fact that the business is illegal and the operators use dangerous riding to dodge MTTD Police, avoid police intimidation, extortion and arrest. The question is, if we legalise Okada, wouldn’t these associated catastrophes minimise?
(4) Okada (motorcycles) are usually used for robberies and snatches on roads.
(5) Okada (motorcycles) are usually used for violent attacks in conflict prone areas and by political hooligans. Reference can be made to Bawku conflict when motorcycles had to be banned for its frequent use to perpetuate attacks.
How Was Okada Illegalised?
I may be tempted to suspect that the reasons given above were part of the reasons why the NDC government, passed Road Traffic Regulation, 2012 (LI 2180). Section 128 (1), (2), and (3) of the L.I. 2180 prohibited motorcycle or tricycle and provides thus,
1. “Licensing Authority shall not register a motorcycle to carry a fare-paying passenger.”
2. “person shall not permit a motorcycle or tricycle which that person exercises control to be used for commercial purpose, except for courier and delivery services”; and
3. “a person shall not ride on a motorcycle or tricycle as a paying passenger.”
Benefits of Okada Business
Despite the Okada business being illegal and having its own devastating effects, we can’t run away from its enormous benefits including;
(1) Source of Income; - A lot of our brothers in Accra and other parts of Ghana have found Okada as a source of livelihood for them and their families. Any attempt to enforce Section 128 of LI 2180 will have disastrous consequences on our youth and worsen the youth unemployment situation in Ghana which may also increase crimes.
(2) Affordable: I am a patron of Okada services and I can tell you that it is cheaper compared to conventional taxi fares.
(3) Faster Means of Transport: One evening as I was hurrying from the Jubilee House to Madina in Accra. I slept in the car for about 20 minutes. I woke up to realise that we were still round 37 military hospital. I said, ‘Chai!’ I had to get down and take an Okada, and in less than 10 minutes I was at my destination. Indeed, Okada is able to manoeuvre its way through traffic to reach destinations about 5 times faster than taxi or trotro in over congested cities.
(4) Ability to Reach Inaccessible or Remote Areas: There are some villages in Ghana that are so inaccessible that only a footpath leads to them. It is very expensive and almost impossible to travel there with a car or even a tricycle. Okada (motorcycle) is the best option for those who want to travel to these places. Our mothers who travel to buy goods from villages can attest to this fact.
(5) Tax Income for Government: Once Okada is legalised and regularised, they will have to pay Vehicle Income Tax (VIT) and other MMDA levies to the government.
Note: Whether we legalise or not, the current law making Okada illegal has been poorly or not enforced at all. I suspect that was part of the reasons why the NPP government in February and March 2020 hinted of regularising the Okada motorcycles and tricycles business. Read this >> Government to introduce regulatory policy for ‘okada’, tricycles
What Happens When We Legalise and Regularise Okada?
(1) It will provide legal means of earning decent incomes to the youth in the Okada business.
(2) Okada riders will become more traffic compliant and respect road traffic signals.
(3) There will be no more arrest, intimidation and extortion by police that often cause them to drive dangerously and offend traffic rules.
(4) Dangerous riding will be minimized.
(5) Reduced accidents and fatalities.
(6) Tax Income to the government through VIT and other means.
(7) General boost in economic activities
How Should We Legalise and Regularise Okada?
(1) Amend Section 128 of LI 2180 and other relevant laws.
(2) Each Okada motorcycle or tricycle must be registered with DVLA for commercial purpose and certified with road worthy certificate.
(3) Each Okada motorcycle or tricycle must have valid comprehensive insurance to cover riders, passengers and pedestrians in case of accident.
(4) Each Okada motorcycle or tricycle must be made to pay vehicle income tax (VIT) and levies to the MMDA that oversee their operations.
(5) Okada riders must adhere to road safety regulations including compulsory wearing of helmet, speed limits, appropriate parking, designated off and on-loading, traffic signals, among others.
(6) The MTTD must effectively enforce the regulations on Okada and other vehicles.
(7) Each Okada must be given the necessary training and obtain valid driving license from the DVLA before being allowed to operate.
In my sincerest opinion, the announcement of H.E. John Mahama to legalise Okada business is a step in the right direction, but enforcement of the regulations is keen if we are to reap maximum benefit more than its associated cost.
This is my humble and feeble take towards the discourse. May it be beneficial for our country! Aameen!!!
Your usual leaner and son from Sankarayili, Abdulai Yakubu [26.08.2020] Tel: 024-042-3100
Email: [email protected]