Last week Friday could have gone very horrible. It was the night I was driving home after close of work, around 9:15 p.m. when I almost ran into an ‘Okada’ (motorbike) rider who had taken a sudden and dangerous U-turn towards my vehicle.
It took a bit of carefulness and divine intervention to save the night.
I do also recall an ‘Okada’ rider, who against all odds failed to obey the beckoning of the police to stop at the Awudome cross junction and ran into the fender of a moving vehicle.
In the process, the youthful rider got badly injured and his bike was destroyed.
These two incidents, and the way many other ‘Okada’ riders ride dangerously on the streets of Accra in particular, leave much to be desired.
Similar misbehaviour by these riders are also reported on the streets of Kumasi, the second largest capital of the country.
Good governance practices will not countenance such acts of absolute impunity by these ‘Okada’ (motorbike riders) on our roads in the interest of road safety.
The exception is Tamale, where motorbike riders respect traffic regulations.
In Accra and Kumasi, ‘Okada’ riders have consistently shown gross impunity on our roads and nobody seems to be able to bring them to book, much more bring the situation under control.
Accidents involving these youthful motorbike riders have seen scores of them killed or maimed over the years, at least so states records at the Accident and Emergency unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.
Statistics from the unit alone show that such accidents involved young adults and most of the fatalities result from severe head, spine and multiple injuries.
While Ghana drives and rides on the right, most ‘Okada’ riders care less about this basic riding rules and they can be seen riding anyhow (left or right) as they please.
They ride on the shoulders of the road and overtake vehicles in any direction they choose. They cross motorists who have the right of way at will, leaving drivers in disbelief and many a time in the full view of the police.
Most of the ‘Okada’ riders are highly indisciplined as they do not respect traffic regulations and are always seen riding through red traffic lights at intersections.
In the process, many Okada riders have been overrun by trucks, buses and cars, sometimes leading to fatalities.
Who is to be blamed?
The question is: Who is to be blamed for the ‘Okada’ riders menace that we constantly experience on our roads?
To inject some sanity on our roads, a former Commander of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, ACP Victor Tandoh (retd), in an interview with the Daily Graphic recently suggested the need to amend the Legislative Instrument (LI) that bans motorcycles from operating as taxis (Okada).
He urged Parliament to amend section 128 (1), (2) and (3) of the Road Traffic Regulations 2012, LI 2180, which prohibits the use of motorcycle or tricycle or what has been popularly known as ‘Okada’ for commercial purpose.
Currently, the use of motorbikes for commercial transport in the country is 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.”
Laws do not work
Strangely, however, our laws and regulations do not work as the enforcers have so far failed or are struggling to ensure sanity on our roads. This, no doubt, has emboldened the ‘Okada’ riders to misbehave on the roads.
Interestingly, they ride in the full glare of the police without they being questioned about their misbehaviour.
Dangerous stunt-performers are usually seen when ‘Okada’ riders are on their way to bury a colleague or a relative. They ride their bikes in their numbers and virtually take over the road, bullying everyone on sight and ride their bikes in any direction.
Looking at the reckless way ‘Okada’ riders ride motorcycles in the capital city, more deaths and casualties are anticipated if urgent steps are not taken to control the practice.
As a nation, all law enforcers must rise up to the occasion and do everything possible to nip the rising trend in the bud to ensure sanity on our roads prevails.
It is doable. At least our brothers and sisters from Tamale have shown the way. Motorbike riders over there respect traffic regulations, so why must the story be different when it comes to Accra and Kumasi?
The only way to sanitise our roads is simply to let the laws work without compromise.