The 2020 Campaign Manager of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) says Ghana’s economy would witness a boost when the commercial motorbike business popularly called ‘Okada’ is regularised.

Mounting a spirited defence of the party’s campaign promise, Prof Joshua Alabi said the ‘Okada’ business presently supports other sectors of the economy despite it being illegal, including the retail and supply sector.

“Online shopping is facilitated by Okada delivery systems. In an era of Covid-19 and the new normal, Okada becomes more relevant than ever. Okada is therefore a part of the financial ecosystem of Ghana as well as trade support,” he said.

Illegal use of motorbikes

The word ‘Okada’ is a Yoruba term for commercial motorbikes in Nigeria. In Ghana, the Road Traffic Regulation, 2012 (Legislative Instrument LI 2180) clearly prohibits the commercial use of motorbikes (Okada).

Similarly, the Driver, Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA) has been forbidden from licensing motorcycle or tricycle for commercial use except for courier and delivery services in the country.

But the NDC has promised on Page 93 of its 143-page 2020 Manifesto christened ‘The People’s Manifesto,’ to legalise the ‘Okada’ business.

The party said it will “legalise the use of commercial motorcycles known as Okada, tricycles and regulate the industry to make it safer by training the riders, ensuring they observe the necessary safety precautions and mandating them to provide helmets for their passengers.”

Safety concerns

The NDC campaign promise has triggered a mixed reaction from Ghanaians with a section raising concerns about the danger the ‘Okada’ business posed to the lives of pedestrians.

Data released by the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) has shown that Ghana has recorded over 10,000 motorcycle accidents within the last five years with several deaths and scores of injuries.

Singling out 2015, the data revealed that there were a total of 2,289 cases of motorcycle accidents and this rose to 3,487 in 2017, increasing further to 4,000 in 2018 with a total of 732 recorded deaths.

Reacting to the concerns, the NDC Campaign Manager said that when the party’s Presidential Candidate, John Dramani Mahama is elected in December 2020, he will thoroughly address issues bothering on safety and security with the ‘Okada’ business.

“It is against this background that Regulation would also provide some level of guarantee, safety and insurance for the riders, passengers, pedestrians and other road users,” Prof Alabi said.

Implications for economy

According to the NDC Campaign Manager, the benefits the economy stands to gain from a legalised ‘Okada’ business far outweigh the speculations in the public.

“Okada supports the Ghanaian economy in diverse ways. It serves as a source of direct employment to the riders, to providing livelihoods to their families and dependents. It also supports indigenous trade and commerce by providing logistical support for deliveries,” Prof Alabi said.

The NDC Campaign Manager has asked Ghanaians to see ‘Okada’ riders as key contributors towards the strengthening of the country’s economy.

“Next time when you see an Okada, look beyond the rider in his helmet and see a stronger economy, safety and security,” he said. 

“A vote for the NDC is a vote for jobs, prosperity and development that brings along the Okada man/ woman and their family…[because the] NDC is leaving no one behind,” Prof Alabi said.