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Flush out Okada operators now

Okada Bikes File photo

Sat, 11 Jun 2016 Source: Vance Azu

It is abundantly clear that Ghana is one of the most liberal countries in the sub-region while its citizens are perceived to be law-abiding, even though there are a few deviants among the citizenry.

With these rich credentials and the respect that our leaders and other high-profile personalities have earned and continued to be accorded globally, it is expected that laws and other regulations that seek to guide the conduct and composure of the people must be adhered to and complied with.

It, therefore, beats me why for close to three years, a law which outlawed the operations of Okada (commercial motorbike riders) in this country continues to be flouted and disregarded with impunity while the law enforcement agencies, especially the Ghana Police Service, look on in bewilderment.

Sadly, the Parliament of Ghana which passed the law also seems helpless in the wake of the non-compliance with and enforcement of the law.

The activity of Okada operators are an issue that most Ghanaians would agree to as not forward looking in the country’s development. There are those who still feel that the services of these operators are essential in some remotest parts of the country where riding in a vehicle is a luxury.

Yes, this might be true, and, therefore, makes some sense, but I find it unacceptable for a middle income country to endorse the operation of Okada in this age and time.

In 2012, the Parliament of Ghana passed the Traffic Regulation, 2012 (Legislative Instrument 2180) which outlawed the operations of Okada.

We have the laws all right and we have the law enforcers. But yes, as President Barack Obama once observed, we do not seem to have the strong institutions to help us deal with some of the challenges that our country faces, especially in the area of indiscipline.

Later that same year, at the annual end-of-year West African Security Services Association (WASSA) organised by the then Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU), now Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD), of the Ghana Police Service, the then Minister of Transport, Mrs Dzifa Attivor, admonished the police to enforce the law banning Okada, but till date nothing has happened. It is very surprising.

Initially, the police gave the people hope when it started arresting Okada operators some of whom were fined between GH¢600 and GH¢1000 after their prosecution.

In spite of all the positive benefits one would claim about Okada operators, they pose grave danger to motorists and pedestrians on a daily basis. Just recently while on my daily workout I was nearly knocked down by an Okada rider. This impatient rider was in a hurry to move on while a motorist had stopped for me to cross to the other side. I was saved by the skin of my teeth.

These recalcitrant Okada guys are a law onto themselves; they ride through red traffic lights and on pedestrian pavements and in opposite directions to oncoming traffic all in the presence of the police who usually turn a blind eye to such traffic breaches.

The news making the rounds is that most of these commercial motorbikes belong to police officers, and that explains why they find it difficult to enforce the ban on their activities.

The menace of these Okada lads is seriously getting out of hands and the earlier something was done about it the better. It is my hope that the Inspector General of Police will turn his spotlight on the Okada guys and flush them out of the system to give some respite to motorists and pedestrians whose lives are constantly under threat through their lawless behaviour.

Columnist: Vance Azu