Okada Legalization Not Now – Transport Minister Designate

Ghana is not ready to legalise the use of motorcycles for commercial purposes, popularly referred to as “okada”, the Minister designate for Transport, Mr Kweku Ofori Asiamah, has said.

He said contrary to reports that his ministry had engaged stakeholders to legalise Okada in the country, what the ministry did was engage in consultations to determine whether to legalise it or not.

He said after the consultations, it had become clear that the country was not ready to legalise the okada trade.

Appearing before Parliament’s Appointments Committee, he said: “I never said that we were leading a stakeholder consultation to legalise Okada. I said we were having consultations to come to a determination whether we are going to legalise it or not, and as the condition pertains today, we will not be able to legalise okada.

“We have a problem of enforcement, and based on the issues on the ground, it will be difficult for me to lead the legalisation of Okada. If the conditions in terms of traffic management and enforcement of regulations change in the near future and become conducive to legalise okada, we will do that.

“As I sit here, and knowing that enforcement is an issue in this country, I cannot. In 2010, the people who died out of motorcycle accidents were 210, but in 2020, out of the 2,500 people who died from road accidents, 1,050 were as a result of motorcycles,” he explained.

Training pilots at Ho Airport

Mr Asiamah also noted that the government was in discussions with some investors to explore the possibility of using the Ho Airport as a base to train pilots.

He said the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State and President of the Asogli Traditional Area, Togbe Afede XIV, had already brought some investors forward and the government would be looking at how to explore that opportunity.

“The Ho Airport is positioned in a way that we can use the place to train pilots, so the government is partnering the private sector to use it as a place of training pilots,” he stated.

Responding to a question on when the airport would finally be opened for commercial purposes, the Minister designate said AWA had notified the ministry that it would commence operations to Ho by June this year.

“The Ghana Airport Company Limited completed the construction in December 2018, and in 2019 we informed the operators, Passion Air and AWA, that the airport was ready for them to start their commercial operations.

“According to the brief, they also asked us to give them some time in order to do their own assessment to see if they could fly to Ho. Then this COVID-19 came in. But AWA has approached us, saying that by June, they will commence commercial operations to Ho,” he stated.

GPHA still holds 30 per cent share in MPS

Mr Asiamah said the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority still held 30 per cent shares in the Meridian Port Services agreement, which was signed for the development and operationalisation of a multi-purpose container terminal at the Tema Port.

“In 2004 when the agreement was signed, the GPHA had 30 per cent and the rest of the partners had 70 per cent. In 2012, a further amendment to the contract to execute Terminal Three. The GPHA was supposed to advance some money as part of its counterpart funding, which it couldn’t pay.

“So the agreement by the shareholders was that if they didn’t have the money, then the other shareholders will pay, then dilute their shares. When we came to power in 2017, the matter came to the attention of the government and we met the shareholders and informed them that instead of diluting our shares, they should advance us part of our counterpart funding for future dividends, so we have been able to restore our 30 per cent back,” he explained.

Boankra Inland Port

The Minister designate also said work on the Boankra Inland Port, which has been in the books of the country for over 18 years now, would finally commence in March.

“I haven’t received any news from the concessionaire that they are facing any challenges as far as the project is concerned. They have told me that they will start the project at the end of March.

“The construction was supposed to start by April this year, but the information I have is that they have finished the financial closure and think they can start construction by March,” he stated.

He said the project was in three phases, with the first phase expected to cost $120 million. The second and the third phases are expected to cost $180 million and $300 million, respectively.

GACL only rented space to Frontiers

Mr Asiamah also pointed out that the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), which operates the Kotoka International Airport, only rented its space to Frontiers Healthcare Services to conduct COVID-19 tests.

That, he noted, was done after receiving confirmation from the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) about the certification of equipment to be used by Frontiers Healthcare Services.

“The GACL did not rely on the bare word of Frontiers Healthcare. It sought to verify and confirm the due certification of the equipment of Frontiers Healthcare. On 20th August, 2020, the MD of GACL wrote to the FDA to confirm the certification of Frontiers Healthcare,” he stated.

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