The Okada phenomenon has creeped silently into mainstream society here in Ghana. With our lazy attitudes, we have ignored the dangers it poses, making belief that all is well. Well, all’s not well, if only you care to be a citizen and not a spectator! It is a very dangerous precedent imported into Ghana by our Nigerian cousins. Now, it has taken over our cities. In fact, it is no more a rare sight to see clusters of motorcycles under trees and around curbs. Some are even found on clear patches of terrain off bus stops. Worst of all, riders gather with impunity as if it is their God-given right to promote this menace. Other than the fact that they pose a great danger to pedestrians and motorists alike, they are brazenly lawless.
They run red lights right under the nose of police and traffic personnel. It seems to have become a de facto norm for motor riders not to stop at red lights. They have soon learnt such audacity from the lawless Okada and the door-to-door delivery riders. They do not so much as have the patience to maintain some form of sanity in the midst of traffic madness. And when challenged, they rain unspellable insults on other petrified road users. This type of nonchalance nearly caused an accident at the Ridge intersection after the Kanda overpass, when a Police officer in his Benz barely avoided hitting two bikes whose riders were stunting in a serpentine formation clearly impatient for the car to pass. The Police officer sufficed with an insult and the Okada riders smirked as they murmured something at him.
Many Okada riders are camouflaged armed robbers. The truth of the matter is that though some may be innocent of robbery, but certainly not that of breaking traffic laws, others are guilty of both. It is important to note that Okada operators have formed a healthy conduit for armed robberies. Some Okada riders are armed robbers, by their own credentials, while others are informants or agents. To say that reckless people patronise the motor services in order to avoid delays due to traffic is in itself irresponsible. But the blatant irresponsibility is that exhibited by officers of the law who look on as if in a trance of haplessness or as if the norm about crime is sheer lackadaisicalness, “fa ma nyame”. Maybe it is the general disinterest in being patriotic or uncorrupt. I believe this latter statement is more appropriate given the status quo!
Okada riders know the nooks and crannies of the cities they operate within. The thieves in their midst earmark their targets for robberies. Then at the zero hour, they STRIKE; in a manner as that the late Hon JB Danquah was murdered. His could have been one of two scenarios: 1- a robbery gone bad or 2- an assassination gone murky. In fact, if you would notice, motorcycles make for an essential tool in most armed robberies. While not discounting the use of vehicles, sometimes sophisticated ones, too, many would agree with me that Okada is a dangerous phenomenon that needs to be discontinued soonest.
If breaking the law right under the breathing noses of the Police can go on without the discernment of the dangers posed, then the police, their traffitac twins, and others security arms of government must be reassessed. The moment of truth glares you in the face when you yell out of your vehicle window at an Okada rider for almost pushing you offroad into a gutter, and he replies, “shorrop jor”; then you begin to get the feeling that Ghana is under invasion.
If the Police want to really fight crime, they should begin with “Okada riders”.
By Fadi Dabbousi