A press conference by an association of commercial motor riders in Ashiaman, a suburb of Accra, was disrupted today when armed Police officers stormed the venue and forced the organizers to call it off.
The officers, armed with guns, charged into the Ashiaman Sakasaka park and told members of the Okada Riders Association (ORA) that they could not hold their planned press briefing, which was to be used to officially state support for the announcement by former President John Mahama that the next NDC government will legalize the Okada business.
According to the Police, they were at the park to enforce the Public Act. It is not clear since when it became a requirement for one to secure a permit from the Police before holding a press conference.
The riders explained to the Police that they were not at the park to start a demonstration and that all they wanted to do was to hold a press conference to express support for the NDC Flagbearer’s futuristic policy to regularize their trade.
However, the Police would have none of it, ordering the Okada riders to leave the Sakasaka Park.
The riders were forced to relocate, however they made it clear that no amount of intimidation will stop them from holding the press conference.
A Secretary of the Association has since been reported as saying that the NDC Flagbearer’s position on the Okada trade is a brilliant one and that all Okada riders in the country support it.
Already, several other civil society groups have been commenting in support of legalising Okada, a public transport system seen by many as dangerous.
The commercial motorcycle transportation (Okada) business has become a hot topic after former President Mahama announced that the next NDC government will regularize it. The announcement has since been a hit with Okada riders who are quite a significant Constituency.
The former President’s announcement had initially been responded to with criticisms from the government. However, as the public approval for the announcement built, some Government appointees also too a position to support it.
Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu, who is seeking to be MP for Hohoe has even gone as far as donating motorcycles and helmets to Okada riders in Hohoe even though the business is still illegal. He has also promised to get the Police to stop giving riders a hard time on the roads.