The country’s unemployment rate has driven many young men in the Ashanti region to venture into the tricycle ‘Pragya’ business.

While operating without licensing and failing to observe traffic regulations, these riders are major contributors to road traffic crashes in the region.

Despite the high risk, the commercial riders are unwilling to quit the trade due to the economic relief it brings to them.

Wahid Musah, an accounting graduate of the Kumasi Technical University, failing to secure a job after school, turned to tricycle ‘Pragya’ riding to earn a living.

This has been his source of income for the past three years.

“This is bringing me my daily bread. I am able to feed my wife and children. I started by riding a colleague’s tricycle. I have been able to acquire mine. I bought it at ¢16,000.”

Though the trade has brought economic relief to many young people like Musah, it contributes to road accidents.

Many riders are minors who operate without a license and fail to observe traffic regulations.

A Pragya Okada Drivers Union leader, Al-Asbat Alhassan Sidi, finds this worrying.

“Some riders learn to ride in a day. Then, they quickly go to DVLA the day after for a license, and they are granted the DVLA.

“They are not tested on their ability to drive on the road. We have tried collaborating with the police to do that, but they say that is not our work to enforce rules,” he said.

The lucrative trade is gradually attracting some foreign nationals.

Criminologist and Crime Researcher at KNUST, Dr Jones Opoku-Ware, insists this should not be encouraged.

“This shows the weakness we have with our border security. Within that sector, there are a lot of foreigners. This is the work they find convenient to do.

“Normally, you will find them stopping shoe shine, nail cutting to venture into the Okada riding business,” he said.

Several calls have been made to ban Pragya and Okada motorcycles as commercial transport.

But the Union believes the industry supports the local economy and should be allowed to stay.

Al-Asbat Alhassan Sidi instead wants effective law enforcement.

“If they ban the Okada and Pragya off our roads, the ill effects will be enormous. If you visit automobile and electronic shops, you will find Adeedeta drivers patronising their services. Rather, we want to collaborate with the authorities for education and law enforcement,” he said.

There are over 16,000 Pragya and Okada riders in the Ashanti Region.

Many are not members of the Union.

This accounts for the difficulty in tracking and educating them on traffic rules and regulations.