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Okada Business Booms   
 
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24-Jan-2014  
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Despite efforts by the police to clamp down on the Okada business, it is obvious that motorbikes used for commercial purposes have become a booming venture which is gradually engulfing the Accra metropolis and other regions.

From the General Post Office area and the Agege Taxi Station at the Rawlings Park, both in the central business district, to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital at Korle Gonno, Dome and Kwabenya in Greater Accra Region, through to the north; Agbozome, Dzodze and Klikor in the Volta Region, the business booms.

Currently, the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service has banned the use of motorbikes for commercial purposes in the country.

However, this seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Besides, the biggest challenge facing the police is how to differentiate between a private motorbike user and a commercial one.

This is evident in the statistics from January to December last year, with as many as 2,570 private and Okada users being crashed in various accidents.

In the middle of last year, the MTTD announced its readiness to deal with operators of Okada when it arrested 73 commercial motorbike riders and pillions.

Out of the number, 26 were processed for court, out of which 20 were fined between GH¢600 and GH¢1,000. Two pleaded not guilty, while six of the motorbikes were confiscated.

Patronage

Patronage of Okada has been due to the heavy traffic jams in the capital city.

A number of people who go shopping prefer the services of the Okada riders to reach their destinations.

In view of the terrible traffic, some workers also use the Okada, instead of trotro and other public transport services, to avoid reporting for work late.

In a chat with The Mirror, an Okada rider, Ibrahim Sango, said patronage was very high, as some commuters preferred Okada services to get to their destinations more quickly than being in vehicles which hardly moved because of the intensive traffic in the metropolis.

“Yes, business slowed down a bit after the Christmas festivities. However, I can say the business is picking up, since many people prefer hiring us to their places of work and the various shopping centres, especially in the mornings, because we are able to manoeuvre our way through the traffic,” he explained.

Another operator, Avon Quarshie, disclosed that his daily sales had increased from GH¢50 to GH¢150 and described it as a lucrative and unstoppable venture.

He said he charged between GH¢2 and GH¢5, depending on where the passenger would alight.

For instance, from the Opera Square in Accra Central to the Graphic Communications Group Head Office by taxi costs between GH¢5 and GH¢7, while an Okada charges GH¢3.

A businessman, Edwin Asante, who is into debt collection, said he preferred using the Okada because it was faster compared to mini buses and taxis.

“My office is at Kasoa but my clients are in Accra Central. Therefore, most of the time I park my car and use the Okada, since it is faster and cheaper, especially in this day of fuel price increment,” he explained.

Dangers of Okada

A visit to some of the Okada ‘stations’ in Accra revealed that many riders did not use helmets nor provided any for their passengers.

Quarshie and 10 of his friends operate from the General Post Office area to Korle-Bu, Dansoman and Mamprobi.

Quarshie has a helmet but does not use it often. According to him, some passengers did not also find it comfortable wearing the helmet.

Recently, the Queen of Koforidua-Ada in the New Juaben municipality, Nana Ama Amponsah, died after she had been knocked down by a motorbike.

That was not an isolated case, as there have been several deaths involving Okada.

Origin of Okada

Okada is a commercial motorbike business that emerged in Nigeria in 1980. The business entails the transportation of fare-paying passengers from one point to another.

Interestingly, Okada was coined from the defunct Okada Airline that used to operate quick-fix operations of flying passengers from one airport to another.

Law enforcement

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DSP) Alexandra Obeng, who is in charge of Research and Training at the MTTD, said the law required motor riders to wear protective and reflective apparel.

Regulation 128 compels riders to wear reflective jackets, helmets, knee and elbow caps and riding boots.

DSP Obeng explained that that regulation was flouted by most Okada riders, who disregard the law and ride on the pavements and the opposite side of the highway, dangerously manoevering and displaying in traffic.

According to him, those who argued for the business to exist usually claim: "If we ban Okada business, many people will be unemployed."

That logic is also flawed because if we allow them to do their business because they will be unemployed, then we should also allow thieves, prostitutes and child traffickers to do their work because if they are prevented from doing their work, they will be unemployed.

Until 2012, there was no law to legally arrest and prosecute people who used motorbikes for commercial transportation purposes.

Intensified calls by some members of the public who disapproved of the practice due to safety issues, however, led to the promulgation of a law which now makes it illegal for motor riders to carry fare-paying passengers from one point to another.
 
 
Source: The Mirror
 
 

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