Okada ban and the spread of COVID-19 pandemic

In January this year, the Head of the Accident, Emergency and Orthopaedic Department at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Frederick Kwarteng, provoked a public debate when he called on the government to ban the operation of Okada in the country.

He made the call following 58 motorcycle accidents that were recorded in less than two weeks in the hospital -from December 21, 2019 to January 1, 2020.

The alarming rate of the accidents which also resulted in the victims losing their lives and in some cases their limbs, prompted Dr Kwarteng to make the passionate call for the ban.

Since that call, many other well-meaning members of the public have added their voices, largely because of the grim statistics that indicate that 732 people died through Okada accidents nationwide in 2019.

These staggering numbers are frightening and show that the nation is losing able bodied young men through needless accidents because the nation is looking on while they die.

The Ghanaian Times is revisiting this topic today because as we published yesterday, Okada is presenting the country with another problem which must be looked at critically.

This time, Okada riders, in addition to all the existing issues continue to flout, with impunity, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s directives to residents in the country amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Amongst the presidential directives, is that residents should observe social distancing at markets, offices, banks, business centres and anywhere people need to gather.

As you may already know, drivers of commercial vehicles especially in the Greater Accra Region, have been directed to reduce the number of passengers to create space for social distance.

To aid adherence to social distancing directives, many organisation are running shift system to reduce the number of workers in their offices and create room for space.

The sole purpose of these directives are to curb the further spread of the virus and protect us all.

We are therefore alarmed that Okada riders have chosen to endanger the lives of everyone by continuing to operate.

It is even more surprising that people are risking their lives and that of their families by patronising their services.

Various scientists across the globe have attested to the fact that social distance is one of the key preventive measures against the spread of the virus which does not yet have a vaccine.

It would be reckless on our part to take such an important preventive measure for granted and throw caution to the wind in the name of money making and the need to avoid traffic.

The Ghanaian Times is aware that more than 300 riders have been arrested by the Ghana Police Service recently, with some arraigned and others under investigation. 

It is a step in the right direction and we hope that they would be dealt with according to the law to deter others.But it should not end there because this is not the first time riders have been arrested.

We call on the government to take a bold decision on the Okada business. Since the current road traffic regulation forbids the business, law enforcement agencies should curtail in for the safety of all especially as we battle the virus.

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