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Use of crash helmets among okada riders, passengers at Kpong low

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Tue, 25 May 2021 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Correspondence from Eastern Region

•Majority of motorcyclists in the Kpone area keep going about their business without protectives

•They ride without a protective helmet and reflective clothes

•The riders also accused the police of arbitrary arrests and intimidation

Despite the fact that the incidence and prevalence of road traffic crash especially involving motorcyclists in the Kpone area, riders still ignore protective mechanisms.

Majority of motorcyclists in the Kpone area keep going about their business without their helmets.

GhanaWeb’s Michael Oberteye as part of this portal’s road safety campaign interacted with and observed the activities of okada riders and their passengers in the Eastern Region to determine the use or otherwise of crash helmets among motorcycle riders and their passengers.

At Kpong, GhanaWeb spoke with 31-year-old Douglas Adjabeng has operated okada for the past five years.

According to him, the use of helmets among the sixty okada operators at the station is not encouraging.

“Most of us use the helmet, some of us too don’t have it,” he said. “Sometimes they do get accident but if you don’t wear the helmet, you get injured due to the non-wearing of helmet and truly as for the helmet, if you don’t wear, you’ll get injured.”

He however added that they encourage the use of helmet amongst themselves to ensure their own safety.

The situation, coupled with other demands of the law, he said has resulted in several arrests of their members by the police.

“The police have been disturbing us. More times, they do come for operations [and] without asking us anything, they arrest our bikes to the police station. Later on we follow up and they say, we’ve been riding by heart, this is not supposed to be the place we should operate and so on and so forth.”

Another operator of the okada at the station identified himself as Francis Dzirasah. The 32-year-old has been in the okada business for the past six years.

Though he admitted that most of the operators do not resort to the use of helmets, he accused the police of arbitrary arrests and intimidation.

“It’s not all about the helmet, they use to tell us insurance, roadworthy, license and all these things,” he said.

According to him, there are currently no jobs in the system and with the current crackdown on illegal mining, some casualties like him have invested in the okada business as a means of survival.

“We are passing through a lot. Some of us used to work in the galamsey areas.

When the operation started, everybody came home. The little you have you buy motor with it. Maybe you borrowed money to add up before you can buy a motorbike…there is a lot that is worrying us but we don’t have anybody to speak for us.”

37-year-old Seidu Ousmanu who has also operated the commercial motorcycle for the past ten years told GhanaWeb that though some riders use it, passengers most of the time reject them, preferring not to use them at all.

“Yes, I use a helmet [and I have another for my passengers]. Some people [passengers] use it, others also say they don’t want to use it but,” he said.

Just as previous speakers, he accused the police of harassment and lamented over the non-availability of a station for them to ply their business.

“The police don’t allow us to operate the okada because it’s still illegal.

Secondly, you see where we’re parking now, we don’t have any station to park, we’re just managing here at the roadside in the meantime.”

GhanaWeb caught up with an artist who gave his name as Ebenezer, jumped on the back of an okada as a pillion rider without a helmet.

Explaining his reasons for not wearing the protective item, he said though he usually does, he preferred not to use one due to his turban.

“I normally use a helmet but today, because of my turban, I didn’t use a helmet today. True, [that it’s risky] but sometimes, some of them [riders] don’t have spare helmets and more often too, seriously, I’m not comfortable with the helmet but I’m fine when I have it, I’ll use it.”

Another passenger, Frederick, shared similar views.

He said “When we came, there is no helmet on the motor so we also decided to take it like that. I know that we’re taking a risk and risk is not good habit because we need to take precautions and obey the rules but here’s the case the motor rider doesn’t have one [for passengers].

“Some of the passengers reject it but with me, if it’s available I’ll put it on because I can’t just play with my life.”

There is an urgent need to educate the public and enforce the law of universal helmet use so that all motorcyclists and passengers are protected from possible head injuries should they be involved in crashes.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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