The Driver, Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, have kicked against the proposed legalisation of the commercial use of motorbikes known as “Okada” operations.
Among other issues, they argued that the open sided nature of motorbikes exposed riders and patrons to danger and legalising its commercial use could increase motorbike accidents which were already high.
They suggested that mass transport, roads and other means of transport should be priortitsed to enhance the transport system in the country instead of legalising an operation which would promote lawlessness.
Mr. George Ackom, Director of Vehicle Inspection and Registration, DVLA and DSP Alexander Kweku Obeng, Education, Research and Training Director at MTTD spoke to The Ghanaian Times in separate interviews yesterday.
They were reacting to a proposal by some Members of Parliament (MPs) from rural constituencies, on the floor of Parliament on Friday, that motorbikes were faster, convenient and cost effective means of transport in their constituencies.
According to the MPs , ‘Okada’ operations had become a source of livelihood for many rural folks and legalising and regulating it would create jobs and improve the transport system especially in the rural areas.
They were contributing to a statement by Mavis Nkansah Boadu, MP for Afigya Sekyere East on the increase of indiscipline on the country’s roads especially on the part of ‘Okada operators’ and the need to put them under check.
Explaining his opposition, Mr. Ackom said that motorbikes lacked the safety features for commercial purposes and it was for this reason that the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (Legislative Instrument 2180) excluded them from being registered as commercial vehicles.
According to Section 128 of the Road Traffic Regulations, the licensing authority was prohibited from registering motorcycles or tricycles to “carry a fare paying passenger” and also prohibits their use for commercial purposes except for courier and delivery services .
“Including persons who ride motorcycles or tricycles as a paying passenger, all persons who contravene that section of the regulation committed an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 25 penalty units (GH¢300) or terms of imprisonment of not less than 30 days or both.
Mr. Ackom said in Togo, Nigeria, Benin and other countries where such operations were legalised, stakeholders had regretted and were struggling to manage it and that Ghana should not be found in the same situation.
He expressed worry about the indiscipline and disregard for laws that resulted in fatalities and suggested that more investment should be channelled into mass transport, construction of roads and other means of freeing traffic and improving transport in the rural area.
DSP Obeng, for his part said motorbikes were not bad for private use or delivery purposes but due to the economic interest that comes with its commercialisation, riders in haste to get more money risk the lives of their patrons and theirs as well.
He said the MTTD , based on the fact that unsafe use of motorbikes exposed pedestrians and drivers to danger, would not support the legalisation of Okada operations as that such a decision would only worsen the situation.
Like the DVLA, he called for consideration of other ways to improve the transport system both rural and urban area and on the issue of employment said there were safer ways of creating employment.
He said the 1,800 deaths and 10,000 injuries on the road could be prevented and the country should not allow any unsafe means of transport to endanger lives and called for a careful approach to transport issues.
According to nationwide statistics from the MTTD, out of a total of 12,510 accident cases reported in 2016, motorbikes constituted 2,827. In January this year, 236 motorcycle accidents were recorded out of a total of 937.
Meanwhile ‘Okada’ operators at Kwame Nkrumah Interchange have welcomed the proposal for the legalisation of their operation and were ready to collaborate with stakeholders in that regard for mutual benefits.
By Jonathan Donkor