Eric Nartey writes: The Okada debate, Nigerian experience and why Ghana must not legalise it

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Transportation is the movement of people, animals and goods from one location to another. It aids trade between peoples which in turn leads to economic growth, globalization and civilization. On the other hand, public

transportation is a shared passenger transport service which is available for use by the general public as distinct from modes such as taxicab, car pooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement (Wikipedia, 2012). Among the modes of public transportation is motorcycle.

In Nigeria, commercial motorcycle used as a mode of public transportation is popularly known as Okada and operated mainly by young youths and a few middle aged men. This kind of business began in Nigeria in the 1980’s when there was an economic crunch. Some youths who lost their jobs resorted to earning a living by the use of their motorcycles to convey passengers to and fro their destinations.

This practice was found

fashionable by both passengers and the operators because while the passengers are conveyed to the last point of their destinations, however remote it is, the operators found a new lease of life in it having lost their first jobs and businesses. It was also found useful as most Nigerian roads collapsed and became unmotorable thereby

making it impossible for people to easily get to their destinations. Motorcycles became an alternative to cabs and buses that cannot ply on the collapsed roads. This made the business to enjoy acceptance by the public as a means of transportation and it boomed from then till date.

But as people join the trade, many issues began to arise as a result of the way and manner the operators ply it. The issue of impatience and recklessness of the operators leading to incessant crashes arose. This led to the increase in road accidents encountered daily in the country as well as the accompanying increase in the rate of deaths due to road accidents.

The issues of its usage to fast track armed robbery and kidnapping in many cities and villages also arose. This calls for a concern about the usefulness of commercial motorcycle transport business in Nigeria, hence, the emergence of this paper to promote the relevance of adult education in exposing the dangers associated with commercial motorcycle transport business as well as discouraging the use of it in Nigeria.

Road Accidents

Motorcycle transport business contributes immensely to the high rate of motorcycle-related accidents recorded daily across the country. High rate of accidents is attributable to lack of training and traffic education among motorcycle operators, impatience on the part of the bike riders, flagrant disregard for traffic rules and regulations, reckless riding by the operators. The factors mentioned above lead to loss of lives of either the operators or passengers.

Crime Rates

Another negative effect of the use of motorcycle for commercial transportation is its use for criminal activities. It has been observed that increase in the number of motorcycles due to their use for commercial purpose aids a lot of criminal activities such as snatching of personal effects (like bags, money, phones), abduction, killing and raping. People of questionable character are among the bike operators. When an unsuspecting passenger stops a criminally-minded rider, he takes the passenger to spots where he/she could be robbed or raped. Such criminal activities are usually perpetrated in the early hours of the morning or late at night.


Fumes and carbon monoxide emitted by motorcycles are on the increase due to increase in the use of motorcycles for commercial purpose. This contributes to increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide and fog in the atmosphere which results in global warming and climate change. The fumes also contaminate the atmospheric air making it impossible for people to always inhale clean air.

Motor Insurance

Health Challenges

Health risks are also involved in commercial motorcycle transport business. The negative health risks on both the operators and the passengers include among others pneumonia, cold, catarrh.

In recognition of the dangers associated with the business, most state governors who promoted the trade by incorporating it in their poverty alleviation programmes initially have also banned the use of motorcycle as a means of public transportation in their state capitals and other cities in their states.

The states include Port Harcourt, Yenegoa, Calabar, Umuahia and Aba, Enugu, Owerri, Asaba and Warri in Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River, Abia, Enugu, Imo and Delta states respectively. Commercial motorcycle transport business constitutes major traffic problems that were being encountered in these cities and cities of other states that are considering banning the business such as Lagos state. This is an indication that the dangers associated with the business outweigh the benefits in the business.

The Ghana Medical Association on Okada,

16 Out Of 20 Accidents Over The Weekend Were From Okada, Ban It Now – Korle Bu Demands.

The Korle Bu Teaching hospital has reignited calls for a complete ban on the operations of commercial motorbikes, popularly known as Okada.

The National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) has also bemoaned the increasing number of Okada accidents and their associated deaths in the country.

Data from the NRSA showed that a total of 656 fatalities were recorded between January and November this year alone, a situation it has described as worrying.

A Facebook post by the hospital reveals that out of 20 accidents which were sent to the accident and emergency centre of the facility, 16 are from Okada.

According to the largest referral hospital in Ghana, the injuries from these accidents are so severe that some victims are battling to save their legs.

The hospital has called on all persons to join the call for a complete ban on Okada bikes in the country.

“Our gospel to ban Okada should be sustained and unrelenting. Over the weekend out of 20 serious injuries that were brought to the A and E Centre, 16 of them were Okada related injuries, some of which we are battling to save the legs. Please let us all with one voice shout to bring down the Okada injuries” the post read.

So, The question we should ask the crusaders for  legalisation of Okada are:

  1. What’s are the risk Factors considered before coming up with this crusade of Okada legalisation.
  2. What’s are the safety measures or policies outlined by the opposition regarding supposed legalisation of Okada if need be and any.
  3. Why did Ghana ban Okada in the first place?
  4. By means of legalisation of Okada what exactly are they going to do?

5.What specific Training are they going to give?

  1. What are the consequences and its control measures outlined for this?
  2. What has changed now compare to 2014 when Ghana ban Okada.

Ghana Road Accidents Statistics  – 2019

The Greater Accra Region had the most road fatalities in 2019 with 449 recorded followed by the Ashanti Region with 448 deaths and the Eastern Region with 349 deaths.

The Upper West Region featured the least deaths with 49 recorded cases.

The provisional data did not streamline data to cover the newly created regions which were carved out from existing ones.

Most of the fatalities came in crashes involving commercial vehicles where 925 fatalities were recorded as well as 7,621 injuries.

Crashes involving private cars led to the deaths of 627 people and 3,302 injuries.

Pedestrian knockdowns totalled 2,983 with 740 of the incidents resulting in deaths.

There were also 4,643 motor or cycle crashes which take into account bicycles, hand carts, tricycles and motorcycles. The crashes saw 723 deaths and 3,474 injuries.In all, there were 13,877 crashes recorded which involved 22,789 vehicles.

The regional breakdown of crashes saw the Greater Accra with 5,483; Ashanti with 3,213; Eastern with 1,212; Western with 1,143; Central with 902, Brong Ahafo with 652, Volta with 593, Northern with 270, Upper East with 254, and Upper West with 155.

The Financial Cost of Road Accidents  to Ghana.

The National Road Safety Commission has noted that Ghana loses over $230 million annually due to road crashes. Within the last 28 years, over 46,000 Ghanaians have been killed in road accidents nationwide.

According to Road Safety Commission investigations, inattention and over-speeding are currently the leading causes of road crashes in Ghana.

In 2018, inattention by drivers led to 41.8 percent of deaths whilst over speeding led to 26.8 percent of deaths recorded.

Ghana should adopt an adequate ways in reducing its road accidents rather than increasing it with an intention of legalisaing  risksy Okada. The youth of Ghana thus the future of our dear country deserves a better policy initiative to earth their potential in developing of our Dear Mother Ghana. The short term approach to employment thus the legalisation of Okada shall cost the country very big tomorrow if not stopped today.

Ghanaian Youth Deserves Better Employment Initiative not Okada.

Think About It.

Appreciation:The Ghana Medical Association

Graphic Online

Road Safety Ghana

Dr Mbalisi Onyeka Festus, Ph.D

Department of Adult & Non-Formal Education, Faculty of Education, University of Port Harcourt


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