The Okada Riders Association of Ghana has disclosed that its leaders had a meeting with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) when it was in opposition, about the prospects of legalising the use of motorbikes for transporting passengers (Okada), which the party promised to do, in the lead-up to the 2016 general elections, should it win the polls that year.
The General Secretary of the association, Mr Majid Amadu, told Kwabena Prah Jr on Accra100.5FM’s morning show, Ghana Yensom, on Thursday, 17 September 2020 that the promise was made to them by the NPP after meeting with Mr John Boadu, General Secretary of the party; and subsequently with the then-vice-presidential candidate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on their plight with the law vis-à-vis their livelihood.
Mr Amadu said the Okada riders sought solace in the NPP after they were sacked from the office of the then-incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC), by Mr Joshua Akamba, when they went there to seek help from him as far as the legalisation of their trade was concerned and to also complain about the constant harassment they endured from the police.
Mr Amadu said the Okada riders feel let down by both the NDC and NPP, and, thus, threatened that they are likely to vote for a neutral political party like the Convention People’s Party (CPP).
On Wednesday, 16 September 2020, Vice President Bawumia said the government will not legalise the Okada business.
“I know that there’s been a recent discussion about Okada in Ghana, I think that in the context of what we are doing we will rather encourage the Okada riders to come in and try to lease these vehicles so that they can run businesses.
“They need to graduate from this risky and less safe Okada riding to a safer means of transportation.
“Their problem will be a lack of capital but if you bring in new leasing policies and we have our national ID cards with our digital addresses we can have a credit system working and give you an option other than this risky job.
“You don’t want to finish driving school and then make a life in Okada riding.
“You can have a better option and we’ll give you a better option.
“So, yes, we will not legalise Okada business. It may be a tough decision but it is in the interest of Ghanaians.
“We have had discussions but we will stick to our decision to provide a better alternative to Okada riding. Let’s give them an opportunity to lease vehicles and pay over time,” Dr Bawumia said at the strategic collaboration of Volkswagon & Blackivy to launch Volkswagon’s new assembled cars in Ghana on Wednesday, 16 September 2020.
The Ministry of Transport recently said it will hold final consultations on whether or not to legalise the Okada business in October this year, after which a report will be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration.
The second phase of the consultations is to engage stakeholders in the six (6) newly-created regions of Bono East, Ahafo, Western North, Savannah, North East and Oti Regions.
“Other key interest groups and civil society organisations would also be consulted”, the ministry announced in a statement, adding that they include the following:
i. Center for Democratic Development (CDD)
ii. Danquah Institute,
iii. Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG)
iv. Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC)
v. Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA)
vi. Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)
vii. And Political Parties
It said: “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the final stage of the stakeholder engagement is expected to commence in October 2020, and a report presented before Cabinet for consideration”.
The Okada issue became topical after the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), former President John Mahama, promised to legalise it in his next administration should he win the 7 December 2020 polls.
Speaking to the chiefs, people and party supporters at Kpando in the Volta Region on Friday, 21 August 2020, Mr Mahama said: “I’ve been seeing young people who have finished school and they can’t find a job and, so, they are looking for something they can do and many of our young people are riding motorcycles and transporting people from place to place, and we call them Okada”.
“But in our law, it says Okada is illegal but Okada is a reality, it has come to stay, you can’t stop it, and, so, I’ve suggested and I say when we come into office, we will legalise Okada but we will regulate it”, Mr Mahama said.
He explained further: “We will regulate it and we will give them training so that they can do their business safely without causing the lives of people, they must obey all the traffic regulations in order that they be allowed to pursue their profession”.