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Legalizing Okada: Mahama Reiterates Commitment; Slams Akufo-Addo’s lie

The okada legalization debate, a key issue in the 2020 elections, has resurfaced, with the NDC reiterating their commitment to formalize it.

Former President John Mahama has accused the Akufo-Addo government’s promise to provide okada riders with cars as fraudulent.

Addressing a gathering in Ashaiman on May 31, 2024, the National Democratic Congress flagbearer pledged to legitimize their profession.

“We have in our manifesto that we will legalise okada, but we lost the elections and, so, that promise was not fulfilled. Our opponents objected to it, claiming okada activities if operationalised, will cause accidents,” Mr. Mahama said.

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According to Mr. Mahama, the Akufo-Addo government’s promise to exchange motorbikes for cars was a lie.

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“They instead promised to take your motorbikes and replace them with cars. Is that not what you were promised? Have you received the cars? It turned 419. We all know that this government is only good at telling lies,” he said.

He further reiterated his commitment to legalise the motorbike (okada) business in Ghana as the NDC has it in their 2024 manifesto.

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“I stand at Ashaiman here – I know in all the 16 regions you have all your associations; there wouldn’t have been space if all okada riders were invited to Ashaiman; there would have been congestion – I would like to tell those of you present to inform all your unions in the regions that from Ashaiman, I want to declare that we have in our 2024 manifesto, that we will legalise okada business when we win the 2024 general elections. Know that the door of your freedom will be opened on January 7, 2025, when they swear me in as President,” Mr. Mahama said.

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He believes that the okada business serves as an employment avenue, and its absence would have led to a drastic increase in unemployment under the current government.

“The unemployment rate was 8.5% when I left office in 2016. Now it’s 14.7% under the Akufo-Addo-Bawumia’s government. If you were not engaged in the okada business, the over 1.7 million something engaged in okada, would have been part of the unemployed. If your business was abolished, the unemployment rate would have jumped higher to 25%,” he said.

Mr. Mahama gave some examples to support his argument for legalizing commercial motorbikes as a means of transportation.

“In East Africa, they have legalised it and they are working nicely. We can also legalise it, and regulate it in safety and security. When we assume power, we will legalise it. We have riding instructors, so, the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) will go to the regions to train you on how to ride safely,” he added.

He pleaded with them to follow the regulations if legalized.

“I’m pleading with you: when we legalise it, you have to follow the rules, the passenger is also paramount. We will also assist those who don’t have a licence to get a licence,” Mr Mahama added.

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