Bajaj Qute vehicles in Ghana

The introduction of Bajaj Qute vehicles by the Coastal Development Authority (CODA) of Ghana into the country’s transportation system is welcome news. The bold initiative was conceived by the ruling New Patriotic Party government in the heat and passion of the 2020 election campaign. After much political wrangling, ‘CODA Drive,’ (as the mini-sized vehicle is dubbed) was launched on October 22, on the grounds of the Accra Metropolitan Area (AMA) to replace the two-wheeled motorbike and its commercial operators (known in local parlance as Okada riders) with a far safer and more affordable four-wheel Ba vehicles. CODA vehicles will operate within the Coastal Development Zone that include Oti, Volta, Greater Accra, Central, Western and Western North regions.

The explosion of two and three -wheel motorized vehicles vis-à-vis motorbikes, “pragyia”, “aboboyaa”, and anything in between on Ghana’s roadways leaves much to be desired. These modes of transportation, clearly, supplement conventional and orthodox vehicles. But they are increasingly assuming notoriety in traffic. They are flagrant in their disregard for traffic rules and disrespect other road user. Thus, their sum total in the nation’s gross productivity if quantified is compromised in terms of safety and security and the general welfare and health of the nation. It’s about time the Okada business is coordinated, standardized, and monitored just as mainstream commercial vehicles.

The motorbike, with its speed and ease of maneuverability has become the choice of criminals, especially armed robbers who boldly and fearlessly operate 24/7. They outrun and outsmart four-wheel vehicles of law enforcement agencies. Passengers in recent cases have become criminal accomplices.

Three-wheel drives such as aboboyaa and pragyia, may not have the speed and luxury to outrun law enforcement agencies, but they also pose some dangers by their sheer snail-speed movements on local and even on highways. They may turn, swerve, and stop at will without signaling and have little regard for traffic rules and regulations. It is about time they are confined to roads and areas where their services are needed most. In the U.S. and elsewhere in developed nations, not all mechanized and/or motorized vehicles share same roads. In New Jersey, for example, trucks are prohibited on some Interstate highways.  

For a start, we call on appropriate agencies and stakeholders to call a temporary time out for Okada operations – with the exception of few – as new effective and efficient guidelines are being developed.  Established businesses and companies that depend on Okada usage could do with special conspicuous tags and designations, while the rest could be grouped into local unions within a central parking lot with a call-in and dispatcher request service. The current SIM card telephone registration would enhance security of call-in request services, thereby reducing potential assault on legitimate Okada riders and such services.

Already some who describe themselves as stakeholders are nursing some resentment against the vehicle. They maintain that consultations were not adequate enough but a good number of prospective drivers have welcomed the move. We hope it would help reduce the menace on our roads created by okada riders and their illegal practices of piling more than one passenger for a fare.

Okada and aboboyaa, whether we like it or not have become a catch 22 situation. They are a necessary evil. They are necessary in agriculture. They are used to cart farm produce, carry the sick in some cases to health facilities far from the villages and also adequate transportation systems for the countryside where the roads are in bad shape. They have become a needed item in our daily lives as the cell phone has become so government needs to assess their utility value before making any decisions to frustrate or curtail their use.

Amandla thinks the introduction of the small, fuel-efficient CODA vehicles is a novel in the country that would help stem the astronomical accident rate of motorbikes in the country. While we applaud government particularly for the time the initiative was announced, we urge it to stay focused in order to realize the very reason it conceived the idea – to confine Okada and its cousins of aboboyaa and pragyia where they belong within the context of the nation.

Our concern, however, is the durability of the vehicles as against the road network, which is an endemic issue in the country. City roads in our country need mending, and the government is doing its best to fix quite a few of them. Our fear is that it won’t be long when another graveyard of Bajaj Qute vehicles would appear at junkyards at Komkompe and Soame. Have the authorities assessed the competence of the vehicle and their versatility regarding our conditions, lest they could be a menace on our roads and highways. We caution the authorities to ensure that the vehicles are consigned to the use to which they would be put and if possible consigned to some specific neighborhoods that have roads good enough to ensure longevity. But can that be done and enforced?

Amandla urges caution and warns against unnecessary politicization of the issue. It is of national importance. We also advise that the new vehicles should provide the information to better the road networks in our cities and urban areas and also to ensure that law enforcement authorities provide the needed guidance for improved vehicle use in the country.

We welcome Bajaj Qute but once again we caution that road users and those who get to operate the vehicle note the need to observe road use regulations.

Posted by on Oct 28 2021. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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