The use of motorbikes for commercial purpose, popularly called ‘okada’, is, without doubt contributing to transportation in Ghana.
According to Mr Ajay Kumar, a consultant to the World Bank “As of 2015 eight out of every 100 persons in Accra used motorcycles (okada) as a mode of public transport, although that mode of transportation was unknown in 2005”
He said “The use of regular buses as a means of transport in Accra only constituted 10 percent of the modal share of public transport in 2015, while other means of transportation which was at 30 percent in 2005 reduced to 25 percent in 2015”.
Sadly, despite the employment opportunities, as well as revenue that government derives from the business, Police officers, who tooled to protect life and property, are harassing them on a daily basis.
Aside the economic benefits it generates, 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 statistics show that 1,199 pedestrians were knocked down by 6,468 vehicles and 1,289 motorbikes. These negative tendencies necessitated a call for an outright ban of the practice, especially when the laws frown on it.
The question to be asked is, as a country, we have a choice, whether to ban their activities or not.
Until that decision is arrived at, we urge the authorities to address the unfortunate situation, where Police officers, harass and extort monies from them
As a newspaper, we bring to mind the fact that, unemployment is on the increase in this country, businesses are either folding up or laying off staff, the little that, these brave youth are doing to support their families, must not be thwarted by the corrupt act of the Police.
These police officers, usually mount checkpoint around Emmanuel Eye Clinic at East Legon, any Okada operator, who is stopped is made to pay Gh¢100, where does those monies go to?
There is the need, in the meantime to sensitize them on the need to wear protective clothing, such as helmets, by protecting their lives and those of their clients.