The Director-General of the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), Mrs May Obiri-Yeboah, has called on the government to take a bold decision to ban the operations of motorcycles being used for commercial transport purposes, popularly called Okada, to help curb road crashes and its attendant fatalities.
She said Ghanaians were divided over the regularisation of Okada because of its usefulness but emphasised that the threat it posed to the public required its ban and called on everyone to support the government to take that bold decision.
“Last year was one dedicated to the most sensitisation and education, but we recorded 2,500 deaths as a result of road accidents, out of which 40 per cent was recorded from motorcycles and motor tricycles.
“Government will have to take a bold decision to ban their operations and all of us need to support the idea. When the government is not supported, that is where a decision will be taken and there will be some divisions among us”, Mrs Obiri-Yeboah said.
In a meeting with heads of departments and agencies in the Bono Region as part of her nationwide monitoring and inspection tour aimed at building support for the authority’s regulatory mandate, Mrs Obiri-Yeboah called on them to support all the efforts and interventions being implemented to reduce road fatalities and ensure decency on the road.
“If we want to see decency on our roads, then we need to do something different from what we were doing previously,” she said.
As part of the visit, Mrs Obiri-Yeboah paid a courtesy call on the Bono Regional Minister, Mrs Justina Owusu-Banahene, to officially introduce herself, brief her about some of the authority’s mandate, policies and programmes outlined to reduce road accidents, and to solicit her support towards the implementation of such programmes.
Also, the visit afforded her the opportunity to monitor and inspect the authority’s regional activities and equally solicit support from the regional heads of departments in the rolling out of the NRSA’s policies.
Additionally, she interacted with managers of various transport operators and drivers, inspected the authority’s regional site earmarked for the construction of the regional office at Zinko, a suburb of Sunyani.
According to Mrs Obiri-Yeboah, from January to April this year, 1,034 persons had already perished through road accidents, adding that “it could have been any of us here, therefore, we need to take drastic measures to help reduce accident on our roads,” she emphasised.
Mrs Obiri-Yeboah explained that Ghanaians were divided in the regularisation of the operations of motorcycles and motor tricycles for commercial purposes, giving room for people to venture into their use without having the backing of any law.
The NRSA boss said while a section of Ghanaians were advocating the regularisation of the use of motorcycles and motor tricycle operations because they provide employment opportunities and also help in traffic situations, others were against commercialising their operations due to the danger they pose.
She emphasised that at the moment, the law did not permit their use for commercial purposes, but because the country was divided, some people were using that opportunity to operate illegally.
Mrs Obiri-Yeboah explained that some of the motorcycle and motor tricycle users did not obey road traffic rules and regulations such as the putting on of helmets while the operators refused to stop at traffic lights, among other offences.
She said there were serious issues with the operations of the motorcycles and motor tricycles in the country, explaining that that had resulted in the increase in road crashes and deaths.
“We as an authority have identified these problems, we can only address them when you support us because you are the people deciding for the region, so if you do not support us in a certain direction we will fail as an authority”, Mrs Obiri-Yeboah stated.
Mrs Obiri-Yeboah further explained that the authority had been given a new mandate to regulate activities of transport operators in addition to organising sensitisation and education programmes.
She stated that the regulatory mandate was added following the passage of the National Road Safety Authority Act, which changed its status from a commission to an authority.
Mrs Obiri-Yeboah indicated that under the new mandate, NRSA was to ensure they regulated the activities of the various transport operators in the country just like the maritime and aviation sectors were being regulated and also ensure that institutions, including the Ghana Police Service complied with road safety standards.
Illegal speed humps
While pledging their support to ensure that the campaign succeeds, persons present at the meeting expressed concern about the increasing erection of illegal speed humps on the roads.
According to them, illegal speed humps contributed to the number of road accidents as their existence sometimes took motorists unawares, because there were no signs indicating their existence and appealed to the authority to remove and stop community members from erecting such illegal humps.