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‘Okada’ Riders Doing Brisk Business At Closed Yapei, Buipe Bridges   
 
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27-Nov-2017  
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Commercial motorbike operators, popularly known as ‘Okada men,’ are cashing in on commuters on the Yapei and Buipe bridges in the Central Gonja District in the Northern Region following the closure of those bridges to vehicular traffic last Wednesday.

Motorbikes have, therefore, become the only means of transport for crossing the two bridges.
 
 
The ‘Okada’ riders who are positioned at both ends of the bridges charge GH¢5 per person before carrying them across the bridge.

A visit by this reporter to the area last Saturday saw the young and enthusiastic ‘Okada’ riders doing brisk business.

Alternative routes

Although the Ghana Highways Authority (GHA) has provided alternative routes for vehicles travelling from the northern parts of the country to the south, some commuters still prefer the Yapei and Buipe stretch of the highway because they considered it shorter, convenient and safer.

Activities

According to one of the Okada riders, Emmanuel Laar, until the closure of the bridges, there was no commercial motorbike activities in the area.

Laar, who is a Senior High School (SHS) graduate, however, stated that he “now makes not less than GH¢100 a day from picking commuters across the bridge.”

The closure of the bridges has also led to an increase in lorry fares by mini bus operators who ply the road between the two deteriorated bridges.

The mini bus operators usually pick passengers carried over by the Okada riders.

Before the closure, a mini bus from Yapei to Buipe charged GH¢6 per passenger. It is now GH¢7 while the fare from Yapei to Tamale that used to be GH¢4 has now been increased to GH¢5.

A commuter who moves from both ends of the bridges either to the north or to the south, therefore, spends not less than GH¢30 just to cross the Yapei and Buipe bridges which is about 65 kilometres (Km) apart.

Some commuters and truck drivers expressed their frustrations and said the closure of the bridges had brought untold hardship on them.

They also claimed that the notice over the closure was rather short. The drivers called for further public sensitisation to the closure by the Ghana Highways Authority (GHA).

Observation

In an interaction with some of the security forces at the Yapei end of the bridge, they said mini trucks loaded with perishable items such as vegetables, fruits and frozen fish and other food stuff were being allowed to cross to save the food items from going bad.

Reaction

In a reaction to some claims on social media that the GHA was considering opening the bridge to traffic from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the deputy Chief Executive Officer of the GHA, Altair Kassim Nuhu, said it was not true.

According to him, the two bridges were still closed to traffic 24 hours. According to him, staff of the Bridge and Maintenance unit of the GHA have been despatched to Yapei and Buipe to begin work on the bridges.

The rehabilitation work is expected to be completed within one month.
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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