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Okada Trade Booms; Ministry Of Transport, Police In Blame Game   
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The Ministry of Transport and the police are embroiled in a blame game over the booming Okada business in Accra.
While the police say they are winning the fight against the business, the Minister of Transport, Mrs Dzifa Attivor, blames the police for their inability to enforce the law banning the commercial operation of motorbikes otherwise known as Okada.

The Commander of the Accra Central Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD), Chief Superintendent Anderson Fosu-Ackaah, debunked any suggestions that the police were not up to the task.

He told the Daily Graphic that Okada remained an illegal business, as stipulated in the Road Traffic Regulation, 2012.

Chief Supt Fosu-Ackaah, therefore, said the police had not relented in their efforts to arrest the perpetrators to discourage the business.

For instance, he said policemen from the MTTD arrested some Okada riders in some parts of Accra a week ago.

"The fight against Okada is on. Even last week we made some arrests," he said.

However, Mrs Attivor blamed the police for allowing the Okada business to go on, in spite of the passage of the law banning the practice in 2012.

“If the police were doing their work well, Okada would not be on our roads,” she said in an interview with the Daily Graphic.

Mrs Attivor, therefore, tasked the police to ensure the enforcement of the law to stop the Okada business.

“The law has been passed; those in charge of its enforcement should enforce it,” she said.

The increased presence of Okada riders in the central business district of Accra, at Abossey Okai, Odorkor, Wato, Circle and other parts of Accra has made some people to suggest that the police have lost the fight against Okada.

Operational challenges
Giving further details about police operations, the Operations Officer of the Accra Central MTTD, ASP Sulley Sulemana, told the Daily Graphic that arresting Okada riders had some challenges.

For instance, he said, the police considered the safety of pedestrians and other road users when organising swoops on Okada riders.

He explained that the Okada riders sped off whenever they realised that the police wanted to arrest them and that, he said, endangered the lives of pedestrians as they could be run over by the riders.

"Arresting Okada riders becomes dangerous. Sometimes they turn and use one-way routes in their attempt to escape arrest," he said.

ASP Sulemana said Okada riders had the penchant to lie that their passengers were either their relatives or friends.

He said the police would have to see a passenger making a payment before it could be established that he or she was a passenger.

In the face of the challenges, he said, the police had devised several means of outsmarting the Okada riders.

He said once an Okada rider received a fare, he could be arrested, as the fare would be used as part of the evidence against him.

Police in Okada business
A section of the public has alleged that some policemen owned many of the motorbikes used for the Okada business.

However, ASP Sulemana said that claim had no basis and indicated that it was either the owners or the riders of the bikes who used the names of policemen they knew to save their faces.

"I have not seen any policeman come to say that any of the motorbikes we have impounded belongs to him or her," he said.

He said policemen knew the sanctions that would be meted out to them if they were found involved in the Okada business.

Licensing issues
Some of the motorbikes used for the business are not registered, while others use the number plates of vehicles.

Another issue is that most of the Okada riders do not have the appropriate licence (Licence A) for motor riding.

Concerns of users and non-users of Okada
All the users and non-users of Okada interviewed by the Daily Graphic in Accra were of the view that Okada was dangerous because of the reckless riding of the riders and their failure to respect road traffic regulations.

Some of the people, including Mr Richard Baidoo, a graphic designer; Mr Paul Osei, a mechanical engineer, and Ms Faustina Borloh, a security officer, said they had never used Okada and they did not have any intention of ever using it because they feared for their lives.

For instance, they said, the riders meandered their way dangerously through traffic, refused to stop whenver the red light was on while others did not use helmets.

Some of the users of Okada, including Mr John Acolatse, a contractor, and Prince Ankomah, a security officer, told the Daily Graphic that they used Okada to beat the heavy traffic in town.

They said the motorbikes could pass through nooks and crannies that other vehicles could not pass through, which reduced the travel time.

For instance, Prince Ankomah said he paid between GHc7 and GHc8 for an Okada riding from the Graphic Road to his workplace at the Kotoka International Airport whenever he was late.

Some of the Okada users called for the regularisation of the Okada business to ensure safe riding.

Statistics on Okada  
The police indicated that some of the Okada riders arrested had been prosecuted.

Those convicted had paid fines from GHc300 upwards, depending on the severity of each offence.

But the police could not provide any exclusive statistics on the arrests and prosecution of Okada riders.

The reason is that data on Okada have been captured as part of general motor traffic offences.

According to 2014 motor traffic offences for the Accra Region, 2,004 cases were reported, with 1,589 of them being taken to court, out of which 1,195 of them were convicted and made to pay fines, while three of them were jailed.

Road Traffic Regulations, 2012
On the use of motorbikes for commercial purposes, Section 128 (1) of the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (Legislative Instrument 2180), states: "The licensing authority shall not register a motorcycle to carry a fare-paying passenger."

Section 128 (2) stipulates: "A person shall not permit a motorcycle or tricycle which that person exercises control to be used for commercial purpose, except for courier and delivery services."

Regarding passengers of Okada, Section 128 (3) states: "A person shall not ride on a motorcycle or tricycle as a paying passenger."

For the punishment of offenders, Section 128 (4) makes it clear: "A person who contravenes sub-regulation (1), (2) or (3) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than 25 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than 30 days."

Source: Daily Graphic

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