Kwaasi Djin’s open letter to Mahama

Dear Sir,

There has been a round of applause by many people (no doubt NDC sympathizers) when you the presidential candidate for the NDC, John Mahama announced that you will legalize and regulate Okadas in Ghana.

Okadas are motorcycle taxis commonly used in West African and some Eastern African countries. Okadas only came onto the Ghanaian scene within the last 10 years, hitherto they were not used in Ghana but were common in countries like Togo and Benin (where they are known as Zémidjans).

On my last trip to Benin in the early 2000s, I prayed Ghana would never descend to that level as I was appalled at the poor transport system with the Zémidjans weaving in and out of every available walking space.

Fifteen years later Ghana has “caught up” with these motorcycle taxis.

The truth is the motorcycle taxis are a reflection of a poor transport system. It is a failure of successive governments to implement a proper transport system (as a result of poor roads etc), failure to implement the laws and provide the teeming youth with jobs. The current law of Ghana Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2180) section 128 prohibits the use of motorcycles for commercial use. Many Okada drivers are no doubt a nuisance and the number of accidents caused by the drivers to pedestrians and drivers is unimaginable. Just go to the emergency units of many hospitals and see for yourself.

Your reason it seems for legalizing Okada is because they help the youth to make a living? And because people are flouting the law, they (Okada) are here to stay.

I am appalled that as a former President who should have made sure institutions worked during your time and thus Okadas remain illegal, you raise your hands in despair and do this pandering.

Of course, you will no doubt have your motorcades to pause time, and weave through traffic when you become the President. You may also take a token walk (within your four-year tenure) to go and buy kenkey to remind all that you are a man of the people, no doubt during that walk no okada driver will dare attempt to mow you down.

Please let us bring sensible and long-lasting jobs, let us also improve roads and find creative ways to reduce vehicular traffic. I give you all the props for the good roads you constructed in your time (I am not going to delve into the cost benefit analysis of those road constructions…that will be for another day).

Sir, for you to say you will legalize the Okada business as it has come to stay is a crying shame, it is a sad story of how politicians like you will pander to the lowest common denominator to get votes. What in heaven’s name is the sense in legalizing and regulating Okadas, there are a host of laws that are not implemented in Ghana because we lack the commitment to enforce them. The Okadas compete with pedestrians on the sidewalk, they cross red lights at the traffic lights in the full glare of policemen who do not even attempt to arrest these Okada drivers.

The really scary thing about these Okada drivers is they overtake on the right side of vehicles, on the left if they choose to and follow none of the road signs. Many of them park their motors on the sidewalks and compete with delivery service bikes which are regulated by law. Now driving at the traffic lights means when it is green drivers and pedestrians have to wait for another 30secs to be sure that an Okada driver is not speeding from any side to cause damage to vehicle or limb. Of course, sir you have never had to wait for anything in the last decade, you rush through Accra yourself like the Okadas, by the very fact of your privilege.

It is easy to make a promise to regulate Okadas that is to give blessing to persons breaking the law every day. It would have been very easy for President Akufo-Addo to have given his blessings to galamsay operations; it has proved difficult to fight galamsey because enforcing the law is always difficult. It is no answer to say it is the livelihood for many young men so illegal mining or Okada should continue, that is also a reflection of poor job opportunities in a broken society. The Okada menace is real and no progressive society will allow Okadas, it is very difficult to have good roads, good vehicles and good railroads and ultimately good trains to reduce vehicular movements.

The idea of regulating Okadas is a terrible one and we should not make it an NDC or NPP issue. We should use common sense and fight this menace.

I hope sir you will think of more creative things to promise the masses…you have it in you.



Kwaasi Djin.


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