The Dean of the School of Finance at the University of Cape Coast, Prof. John Gatsi is applauding former President John Mahama’s promise to legalize the commercial motorcycle business, popularly known as ‘Okada’ saying such a policy would bring order to society.
In a feature article, Prof. Gatsi also argues that it will help road safety institutions have a better grip on their jurisdiction and thus ultimately result in safer roads.
“The regulation will help the National Road Safety Authority, DVLA and the Police to be guided to better handle Okada related matters to maintain order in our communities,” he wrote.
Former President Mahama was speaking to the Chiefs and people of Kpando in the Volta Region when he promised that if elected as President in the December presidential polls, he will regularize ‘Okada,’ which at the moment is illegal.
“In our laws, okada is illegal. But in reality, okada has become part of us. It has come to stay and you can’t stop it. So I have suggested that when we come into office, we will legalize okada but we will regulate it…We will regulate it and give them the necessary training so they are able to conduct their business in a safe manner,” John Mahama said.
His promise has since been met with condescension by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) some of whom are mocking that when the NPP is talking about digitization, former President Mahama is talking about legalizing ‘okada.’
The more constructive concern, however, has been in the form that Okada has been a dangerous feature of Ghana’s public transport in the past. However, Prof. Gatsi writes that in all its threat, ‘Okada’ is still part of life in Ghana, even in its current unregulated form.
“Many people have died through accidents and carelessness by Okada riders in Ghana. According to the National Road Safety Authority, 27.7% of road accidents are linked to Okada. The question is has it been easy to stop Okada? No. Can we change our approach? Yes,” He observed.
“The truth is that Okada is the main means of transportation for many rural communities. Okada gives employment to many youths throughout the country.”
He observed that non-compliance with road traffic regulations by Okada riders is something that is a problem in Southern Ghana, saying in the Northern Ghana, there is more compliance. Given the existence of some compliance, the source of employment that it is and the public reliance on Okada as means of transport, Prof. Gatsi said the truly obvious option is legalization.
“The Okada phenomenon is clearly a developmental challenge. Our policymakers should deal with it to make it better. It is possible to make it better to maintain jobs, incomes and help the riders to obey road traffic regulations and ensure safety,” Gatsi said.