The raging debate on legalising ‘Okada’ business in the country has caught the attention of members of Ghana’s Parliament as they have called for the amendment of the country’s road traffic laws to accommodate the practice.
In a statement on the floor of the House yesterday, Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, charged the government to legalise the commercial use of motorcycles as ‘Okada’ due to its contributions to the Ghanaian economy.
Ghana’s Parliament in 2012 approved a legislative proposal by the government to pass the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (Legislative Instrument 2180) to regulate road transport in this country.
Sections 128 (1), (2) and (3) of the L.I. 2180, prohibit the use of motorcycle or tricycle, or what has been popularly known as “Okada” for commercial purposes.
Arguing for the lifting of the ban on the usage of motorcycles or tricycles for commercial purposes, the Asawase MP noted that the benefits outweigh the negatives associated with their operations.
“Even though these Okada operators are working hard to make a living, their activities have been described by some people as counter-productive because many of them flout road traffic regulations. They fail to wear protective clothing such as helmets, thereby putting their lives and those of their clients in danger. Some of them ride recklessly resulting in road accidents.
“These negative tendencies necessitated a call for an outright ban of the practice and also some of the major reasons that initially influenced the passage of the law. But it is my considered view that the benefits outweigh the social costs and as such we cannot kill the goose that laid the golden eggs by this country’s continuous ban on the use of motorcycle or tricycle for commercial purposes,” he stated.
He said the suggestion that motorbikes are used to commit crimes such as snatching of mobile phones and money from people and speed off thereafter was not inherent in the mode but was a consequence of inadequate law enforcement.
According to him, what was critical was that the country must put in place regulations that support the commercial operations of the Okada riders and such regulations must aim at instituting appropriate standards and capacities of motorcycles and its drivers for public transportation service.
“Such regulations must also touch on proper type of motorcycle that can be granted a franchise, the minimum Cubic Centimetre (CC) capacity of motor, travel speed of motorcycle taxis, franchise route, seat and helmet requirements, and training requirements for motorcycle riders looking to register as a Public Utility Vehicle driver,” he added and through other regulations to support their use for commercial purposes such as setting working time limits within which commercial operations are allowed can help us achieve the objective of creating employment opportunities for youth and also address the transportation needs of our people, especially in the rural areas.
“Let us review the law to accommodate Okada operators by mainstreaming them into our national transport system so that they can be identified, registered, licensed and policed to work within the road traffic regulations,” he declared.
For his part, the Deputy Transport Minister, Titus Glover, disclosed stakeholder engagements were ongoing for finality on the matter.
“Let’s look at what the law is saying. For now, it is saying that it should not be operationalised. I am saying from the Ministry’s perspective we are still engaging. We want to listen across the country and ascertain if it is indeed feasible to look at it,” he said.
Meanwhile, First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, for his part, warned Parliament will live to regret if it amends the laws to legalise the use of motorcycles for commercial transport.
According to him, no responsible executive will legalise Okada business given the ramifications.
Story: Today Correspondent