Okada’s gift to the modern world

BY: Nancy Kusi Appiah

Many are the concerns that well- meaning Ghanaians have expressed about the use of motorbikes for commercial purposes on our roads.

Many have added their voices to this current means of transport for some Ghanaians especially, in the country’s capital, Accra.

The all-important discussion has featured prominently in debates at our legislature, with very prominent Members of Parliament (MPs) calling for the ‘Okada’ business as we have come to appreciate, to be banned.

The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, for instance, was strongly heard calling for the phenomenon to be discouraged, owing to the gross indiscipline usually exhibited by riders on our roads.

Another MP who belongs to the Minority side was swift in calling for a proper regulation of the business, since it serves as a very effective and efficient means of transport.

The said MP cited an instance of him packing his Toyota Land Cruiser somewhere and jumping onto an okada as a result of the need to get a transaction done in time.

In his view, the okada menace needs urgent regulation backed by a bill to enhance operation.

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) too has been fighting the legalisation of okada in the country raising concerns about the dangers the business pose.

There’s also a school of thought that sees the okada business as a means of income generation for otherwise idle individuals. This has made the business very competitive.

Widening the scope of the argument to cover dangers involved, one can immediately point at the harm done by some okada riders to their passengers.

In a phone conversation with a schoolmate, she lamented how her life was nearly shortened few days earlier when she was involved in a motorcycle accident.

The motorist had lost control and thus threw them onto the road.

Being an okada user myself, advising her to avoid its usage wasn’t the way to go.

Instead, I asked her to be cautious anytime she takes a motorbike.

This only captures a portion of the bigger danger posed to passengers on motorcycles, especially in Accra.
I have personally witnessed instances where riders have veered off the road as a result of reckless riding. Riders disobey traffic regulations with impunity.  
A solution to this phenomenon is for the government to engage all stakeholders and focus on regulating the use of motorcycles in the country.

Let’s make it a point to reason with those who believe that the advent of the okada business has created employment for riders, helping to reduce the spate of idleness with its concomitant evil of all manner of crimes in our society.

Collectively, let’s endeavour to see not only the negative aspect of the okada business— a middle ground is needed in this respect.

My advice to users and riders is strict adherence to traffic regulations and personal safety mechanisms such as the use of crash helmets.

Together, we can find a middle ground and come to a conclusive resolution as one people.