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The Minister-designate for Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, has stated categorically that the government will not legalize motorcycles, popularly called Okada, for commercial purposes.
According to him, the categorical statement made by Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia during the 2020 electioneering campaign that “the conditions pertaining today in the country do not support the legalization of ‘Okada’ as commercial transport and remains the position of the government.”
Answering questions before the Appointments Committee of Parliament on Tuesday, the minister-designate said “I don’t want to be an ostrich…we have a problem of enforcement in this country and based on what is pertaining on the grounds today, it will be difficult for me to lead the legalization of Okada.”
“Thankfully, the police are trying to modernize their system of traffic control. If by year or tomorrow the conditions, in terms of traffic management and enforcing the regulation, become good we will assess it,” he indicated.
Mr. Asiamah said approximately 1,050 people out of 2,500 who died from road accidents in 2020 were as a result of motorcycle, and added that the number was a huge jump from the 2010 figures in which 210 people died as a result of motorcycle.
He corrected a statement attributed to him that he had once said he was leading stakeholders’ consultation to legalize Okada, explaining, “I said that we were doing stakeholder consultation to come to a determination whether we were going to legalize Okada or not. That was a statement that I made.”
Whether to legalize Okada or not, became campaign rhetoric and triggered heated political debate after former President John Dramani Mahama alluded to it as he sought the support of the disguised unemployed youth for his bid for the presidency.
Many doubted the sincerity of the then opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) flag bearer as he flaunted a carrot in front of the youth, most of whom have turned to the commercial motorcycle commuter service in the streets of Accra to earn their living.
“This is a service that has come to stay. Whether you legalize it or not, you cannot stop it and so why behave like the ostrich and bury your head in the sand? These ‘Pragias’, ‘Aboboyaa’, ‘Okadas’ have created more jobs in this economy than the job-related policy of any government. It has created more jobs than NABCO, YEA and all those artificial job creation programmes,” Mr. Mahama had said.
He continued that “we will regulate it and we will give them training so that they can do their business safely without costing the lives of people; they must obey all the traffic regulations in order that they are allowed to pursue their profession.”
In 2012, an NDC-dominated Parliament passed the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (Legislative Instrument 2180, with Sections 128 (1), (2) and (3) of the L.I. 2180,) outlawing the use of motorcycles for commercial purposes or “okada”.
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