Transport Minister-designate, Kwasi Ofori Asiamah, has reiterated that the government will not be legalising the commercial use of motorcycles popularly known as okada.
Speaking at the Appointments Committee vetting he stated that the current conditions pertaining to traffic regulations and enforcements do not give room for okadas to operate.
“We have an issue of enforcement in this country and based on what is pertaining on the ground today it will be difficult for me to lead the legalisation of okada,” Mr Asiamah said.
He added that the number of motorcycle accidents and their fatalities have increased, thus, it will be unwise to legalise okada when issues with road traffic regulation have not yet been addressed.
Mr Asaiamah said, “Mr Chairman in 2010 the people who died out of motorcycles accidents was 210. The 2020 figures, out of 250,000 who died from road accidents, 1050 is as a result of motorcycles.”
Nevertheless, he added that the government might consider a stakeholder conversation if traffic regulations and its enforcement improves significantly.
“Thankfully the police are trying to modernise their system of traffic control. If by tomorrow the condition in terms of traffic management, in terms of enforcing regulations becomes conducive, why not? We will assess it.”
In August 2020, conversations on legalising okada were rife after then NDC Flagbearer John Mahama promised that his government will legalise the okada if voted into power in 2021.
According to him, the Okada business had become a means of sustenance for young people who are unemployed.
His comments generated mixed reactions from Ghanaians with one section throwing their support behind it while another called for the implementation of the law banning the okada operation.
Senior Vice-President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil added his voice to the section of the public that was advocating for the legalisation of the commercial use of motorbikes.
He said if the government is not ready to “legalise and properly regulate this important transport and economically viable sub-sector, then they are not prepared to run a country like Ghana”.
But, the Motor Transport and Traffic Department, MTTD, said it will be challenging to regulate the commercial use of motorbikes.
Speaking to JoyNews, Head of Research and Programmes at the MTTD Alexander Obeng said that there are other factors to consider including the training of police personnel to enforce the law, deployment and others.
Transport Consultant and road safety expert Cecil Gabrah also warned against the use of regularisation of the okada business to lure the youth for votes.
“The risk involved is too high. In Accra alone we have a lot of very fatal cases. Speak to Korle Bu Teaching and 37 Military Hospital and they will give you the daily statistics of fatalities,” he said.
Mr Asiamah, at the time, also stated that the government had begun stakeholder consultations to decide on whether to review the law banning the commercial use of motorcycles or implement tighter restrictions.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia had later said that the Akufo-Addo administration will not legalise what he describes as “risky business”.
He assured the riders of a better alternative of empowering them to purchase brand new cars assembled in the country to engage in a much safer venture.
Speaking at the Committee meeting, the Transport Minister-designate said the government is sticking to Dr Bawumia’s statement adding that “with the condition pertaining today it will not be possible for us to legalise okada.”