The head of education at the Motor Traffic and Transport Department [MTTD] of the Ghana Police service has called for a relook at the law that prohibits the use of motor cycles for commercial purpose.
Superintendent Alexander Kwaku Obeng made this call while contributing to discussions on Joy’s FM Super Morning Show [SMS] Monday on the risky Okada business. ‘Okada’ is a slant for motor cycle in Ghana.
In 2012, the use of motorbikes for commercial transport in the country was outlawed under Regulation 128 (1 – 4) of the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 which 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.
The surge in the use of Okada is also leading to rising incidents of crime, accidents, and violations of road traffic regulations involving motorcycles.
Figures from the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) show that 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 nationwide while in the first quarter of 2017, about 708 road users died from 4,049 road accidents, with 3,983 others sustaining various degrees of injury.
The need for Okada and its attendant risk are lending credibility to the calls for a relook at the existing legislation. Rather than a ban, stakeholders are calling for regularization of the trade.
Superintendent Alex Obeng is one of them. He argued that it is about time the debate on Okada is made much more holistic. His position is that despite the infractions involving Okada in Accra, elsewhere in the country, the need for it cannot be overemphasized. “The needs of Okada across the country are different,” he told Daniel Dadzie, host of the Joy FM SMS.
According to him, it is the only means by which people travel and commute across long distances outside Accra. “Lack of availability of public transport makes people rely on it,” he said.
The head of education of the MTTD said even though the large patronage of the services of Okada is “bringing policing into dispute,” until such a time that the law is reviewed, the police will continue to arrest and prosecute those who use motorcycle for commercial business, those who use motorcycle without the right costumes and those who use it unregistered.