A Deputy Minister-Designate for Transport, Hassan Tampuli, has suggested that the law banning commercial motorcycle operations popularly known as ‘okada’ in Ghana ought to be maintained.
According to him, okada riders do not obey road traffic regulations leading to many crashes, hence legalising such business will be counterproductive.
“Ghana as a country has been with motorbikes for a long time, but it’s the commercialisation of same I believe is the issue that is confronting us now. The issue goes beyond okada. I think that generally, motorcycle riders sometimes turn to engage in some amount of rascality on the streets and most of them don’t respect the road traffic regulations, and sometimes you see two or three people riding on the same bike with no helmets so, in the event of a crash, they don’t have any safety as far as the accident is concerned.”
“Currently, the commercialisation of motorbike is outlawed under the road traffic regulations and I believe we should continue to maintain it for now until we are able to do a lot more public education about the use of it as a means of transport before we can roll it out.”
Mr. Tampuli made these comments when he appeared before Parliament’s Appointments Committee on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, to be vetted for the Deputy Transport Minister portfolio.
Okada business was outlawed in 2012
In 2012, the use of motorbikes for commercial transport in Ghana was outlawed under Regulation 128 (1 – 4) of Road Traffic Regulations 2012, which states: “The licensing authority shall not register a motorcycle to carry a fare-paying passenger.”
The debate on the legalisation of okada came up strongly during the run-up to the December 2020 general elections following a promise by the then Presidential Candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress, John Mahama.
Mr. Mahama had promised to legalise such business should be given the nod to lead the country again as President.
While some criticized him over the idea, saying that it was populist and would cause more harm than good, others defended it, citing the job creation prospects of the operations.
The Bureau of Public Safety, for instance, demanded details of how the commercial use of motorcycles would be regulated.
The Okada Riders Association of Ghana (ORAG) pledged their support for Mr. Mahama.
The government on the other hand described the operationalisation of okada in the country as a “risky business” and would not heed to pressure to legalise same.