Vice President, Dr. Mahammudu Bawumia has said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) will not succumb to pressure to make the commercial use of motorbikes, popularly known as ‘okada’, a legal means of commercial transport.
Describing the operationalisation of okadas in the country as a “risky business”, Dr. Bawumia announced government’s proposed alternative to offer new cars to the operators on a lease basis in order for them to carry out their activities in a much safer manner.
Speaking at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Volkswagon and BlackIvy for the production of affordable vehicles and houses for Ghanaians, the vice president indicated that, the governing party is coming up with a much better option than the legalization of “okada” as promised by the Flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama.
“You don’t want to finish graduate school and then make a life from okada riding. You can have a better option, and we will give you a better option. So yes, we will not legalise the okada business in Ghana. It may be a tough decision but it is in the interest of Ghanaians. We are having discussions, but we will stick to our decision to provide a better alternative for the okada riders. Let give them an opportunity to buy safer vehicles through lease and pay over time. It is a better option than what the alternative is”, he said.
Dr. Bawumia’s announcement comes amidst consultations by the Ministry of Transport to decide whether to review the law that bans the use of okadas.
John Mahama, who wants critics of his promise to stop acting like “ostriches”, maintains the okada business has come to stay.
According to him, okada is the only means of transport for some people in some parts of the country.
But the veep disagrees with the former President insisting having to legalise the okada business for whatever reasons will cause more than good to the country’s transport industry.
“In the context of what we are doing, I will encourage the okada riders to come in and try to buy these leased vehicles so that they [okada riders] can run businesses. They need to graduate from this risky and less safe okada riding to a safer means of transportation. Their problem will be a lack of capital but if you bring in new leasing policies, and we have our national ID card with our digital addresses and so on, we can have a credit system working and give them an option other than this risky venture.”
Proper transport plan needed
An economist, Dr. Adu Owusu Sarkodie has urged the NDC to come up with a more substantive plan for the transport sector than simply legalising commercial motor transport.
He says he is against the opposition’s plan to legalise okada operations.
“If they are saying they are going to legalise it because it has come to stay, that I will not support.”
Dr. Sarkodie also said it was not prudent to compare Ghana to other countries like Nigeria that have mainstream use of okada.
“I have heard people say we should legalise okada because okada has come to stay. I do not support this argument. Nigeria is not our model. What is the Ghana model in terms of transportation?”