The National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) has called for a new policy direction on the use of motorcycles and tricycles for commerce in the country, following the death of 732 people between January and December last year.
That, it said, was necessary, in view of the widespread use of motorcycles for commercial and private activities, a business known commonly as ‘Okada’.
“We think that there should be a new policy direction regarding the use of motorcycles and tricycles. This is because much as we think that the law has provided that it is illegal to use them for fare-paying, we see it happening,” the Director in charge of Planning and Programming at the NRSA, Mr David Osafo Adonteng, told the Daily Graphic.
“Most people have found value for the use of motorcycles; others are saying that it is a source of employment, others think it is a way to survive — the young men, for example.
“Others too think it is a means of public transport that is helping areas that are highly deprived of public transport. Some also think it is helping in healthcare delivery services in the rural areas. This means ‘Okada’ has now gone beyond ordinary use,” he said, and cited the use of motorcycles in the agricultural and educational sectors.
According to him, motorcycles had left the arena of use for private purposes for commercial use and if Ghanaians were not careful, the situation could escalate.
“We expect the Ministry of Transport to come out soon and give us a direction as to the new policy on using motorcycles and tricycles in Ghana, and then the agencies responsible for its implementation — the NRSA, the police and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) — will come up with some regulatory mechanisms to be able to control the situation,” Mr Adonteng said.
Korle Bu admissions
Early this year, the Accident, Emergency and Orthopaedic Department of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital indicated that ‘Okada’ accidents topped road accident cases during the Christmas and New Year period.
On December 22 and 23, it said, the country’s biggest hospital recorded 30 road accident victims, out of which 20 were ‘Okada’ cases.
Between December 30, 2019 and January 1, this year, the hospital recorded 79 vehicle cases, 58 of them involving motorcycles and one bicycle case.
The police, Mr Adonteng said, appeared handicapped when it came to the implementation of the law banning the use of motorbikes for commercial purposes, looking at the situation on the ground.
“It means that there are challenges relating to enforcement and I don’t think that a law that cannot be enforced should cease to be efficient,” he said.
He said the Ministry of Transport tasked the NRSA, the police and DVLA to go round the country and look at the magnitude of the problem of the use of motorcycles, noting that in the course of the rounds, they noticed that the problem was widespread that it had gone beyond safety, entering into the area of economics.
Mr Adonteng said the use of motorcycles was a menace in the country due to their reckless use for commercial purposes.
He said even if the Ministry of Transport gave approval for their use in the rural areas, where there was lack of proper transport services, “it still has to be regulated under a strict regulatory regime”.