Over 2,000 commercial motorbike operators popularly referred to as “okada” within the Ashaiman Constituency in the Greater Accra Region have said any attempt to enforce the ban on their business activity will bring untold hardship on them.
Flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) John Mahama has indicated he recognizes the benefits of the ‘okada’ business to the many families that depend on it, hence his promise to legalize and regularise it should he win the December 7 polls.
Some of the okada riders in Ashaiman who spoke to Citi News said they fully support the NDC’s policy to legalize what they engage in to enable them to fend for themselves and immediate family members.
At a meeting with the Member of Parliament for Ashaiman, Ernest Norgbey on Thursday, September 3, 2020, the operators detailed the problems associated with the business.
“We have family members and we pay school fees. We need to put food on our table and pay rent. So with this good initiative, we are happy with it.”
“This is the work I do to feed myself and pay the school fees of my children and help my family. So if it is legalised, that will be some good news”, one of them indicated.
Already the Okada Riders Association has welcomed the promise by the former President, maintaining it is feasible and must be supported.
The group believes the promise if implemented, will provide jobs for unemployed youth in the country.
For another rider who is a graduate, he has not been able to find any meaningful employment after school and was advised to join the Nations Builders Corps (NABCo).
According to him, when he compares “NABCO and Okada, I prefer the latter. I can make GHS 2,000 a month from Okada but NABCo will give me just GHS 700. So I will go for okada.”
“I support the legalization of okada business so we are throwing our support to John Dramani Mahama into power. Some of us use okada to get our daily bread because we have no jobs”, one other rider mentioned.
On his part the Member of Parliament for the area, Ernest Henry Norgbey said he would lead the charge to ensure the legalization of the Okada business as soon as the NDC party is voted back to power.
“I am here to give you the assurance that the pledge by John Mahama to you that he will legalize and regularise your operations will happen. We will think of how to get those of you without licenses so that we prepare you for the legalization”, he said.
This campaign promise by John Mahama has been largely discussed within the media space, with a number of people describing it as a false promise.
Some have criticized him over the idea, saying that it is populist and would cause more harm than good and one just to acquire some votes in the election.
However, members of the NDC have defended it, citing the job creation prospects of the operations.
The Bureau of Public Safety, for instance, demanded details of how the commercial use of motorcycles would be regulated.