The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has waded into the debate over the use of motorbikes for commercial transport, also known as “okada,” urging the government to be thoughtful as it considers legalising that mode of transport.
The GMA in a statement warned that “legalising the operation of Okadas under the current prevailing circumstance is more likely to increase the risk to riders, pedestrians and other road users.”
The GMA says the accident and emergency centres of its members “are now inundated with increasing numbers of victims of crashes involving motorcycles.”
It thus called on the government “to consider the issues holistically with appropriate stakeholder engagement.”
“Any attempt at changing the status quo should be based not only on political and economic considerations but also the health and safety implications for the general populations.”
The Road Traffic Regulations, 128, 2012 bars the use of motorcycles or tricycles for commercial purposes aside courier and delivery service.
Aside Okada operators being known to flout road traffic rules; like driving against traffic and running red lights, there are safety concerns that underpin the ban.
There were 3,903 motorcycle accidents in 2018 and such crashes are known to have high casualty rates because of the relative lack of protection for passengers.
In Parliament, First Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei Owusu, noted that the safety concerns associated with the use of Okada and did not make it a viable mode of commercial transport, hence the ban should be in place.
But arguments have been made for the review of the ban in the name of job creation.
Government has said it is considering reviewing the ban because of the arguments in favour of job creation and ease of commute.
“The Okada business is also having a multiplier effect on the Ghanaian economy in that some of the riders save portions of their income from this business to start other businesses while employing some of their family members to run them. In Nigeria, in most populous cities, there are over 200,000 Okada operators providing direct employment to over 500,000 people,” The Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak also said.
In view of considerations, the Police urged the government to lay a solid foundation before attempting to review the law.
According to the service, key steps such as the establishment of an institution to train and equip motorcycle riders with the requisite road safety regulation will be integral.