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Promoting cost efficient transport solutions to bridge the urban divide and help Government in realizing it’s Digital Inclusion Agenda

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The rapid increase in population in Ghana has not been matched with a corresponding growth in jobs as is characteristic of most developing nations of the world.

Urbanization in West Africa does not yet appear to be delivering the improvements in economic growth and quality of life achieved elsewhere in South East Asia, whose growth statistics have been similar to that of the continental sub region.

Instead our cities are growing in largely an unplanned manner stretching existing infrastructure and services to beyond breaking point and failing to improve productivity and creation of jobs.

 

Whether the population surge turns out to be a good or bad thing depends , largely on how government and policy makers respond, enabling job creation and improving the absorption of people into the private sector.

Opportunities abound in turning an informal system into a formal tax paying, data providing system.

 

We need to consider legalizing, regulating and creating an improved  transport system using motorcycles, instead of sticking our heads in the sand and hoping the menace of Okada will disappear. An outright ban will be disastrous and chaotic, to say the least. Lets take our neighbors Nigeria as an example, after Lagos banned the popular okada which employs majority of its citizens, the city has descended into chaos, with protests and demonstrations every day of the week.

 

Ghana can show its leadership in West Africa by adopting a better route than that of our neighbors, in essence Nigeria usually looks to emulate Ghana in our Innovative endeavors, sighting the recent brilliantly planned and successful execution of the Year of return 2019 celebrations, with their own Door of return 2020.

 

Okada is synonymous with recklessness, disorganization and unsafe mobility options.

 

What if we transformed this social phenomenon into an organized, regulated, safer and more convenient mode of transportation to ease up the pressures on our fragile transportation infrastructure.

 

Research and studies have shown that two-wheel modes of transportation are going to become the main mode of transportation in Africa within this decade.

 

Other South Eastern Asian countries have done it, and we in West Africa with similar demographic and intellect can replicate them.

 

The likes of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam have shown by example that with technology and a supportive legal structure, any nation interested in digital transformation, can overturn this once thought okada menace into a convenient economic growth driver.

 

Technology firms such as Grab, Gojek have attracted and built multibillion-dollar companies through innovation and leveraging on supportive policies, which have helped attract FDI’s form Venture capital funds around the world.

 

These countries reap massive benefits and created a more dynamic transportation system using motorcycles, thereby helping to transform an informal menace into a formal tax paying licensed economic driving force.

This system has positively impacted the livelihoods of majority of its citizens regarding their economic future.

 

My search for answers led me to one such organization aiming to replicate this model in West Africa.

BluBird Technologies, is a Ghanaian tech and transport start-up led by its Ghanaian founder, Gerald Acheampong, a poised smart and very shrewd entrepreneur, together with his team of technology and transport experts from various backgrounds are working to replicate this innovation in Ghana hopefully across West Africa.

Safety concerns persist among certain circles and its not surprising why:

The high rate of road traffic accidents involving reckless riders who flaunt traffic regulations can be curbed with better trained regulated and licensed drivers recognized on our roads.

Cutting through some of these concerns, I urge critics to consider the shorter journeys regulated motorbike taxis would make compared to regular okada drivers.

It will be more pertinent and accurate to forecast the service by analyzing  the accident rate of existing okada riders and the new improved motorcycle ride hailing services that will offer on demand food and grocery delivery for instance.

If cars and other vehicles were unregulated and didn’t respect traffic regulations, similar safety concerns would arise.

There are pros and cons to every human system, but my belief is that entrepreneurs will solve Africa’s problems with support from lawmakers.

Ghana’s urban landscape could be on the cusp of a significant change if motorcycles are given the goahead with drivers accessing proper training and licensing.

Motorbike taxis can serve as a complement to public transport in our cities where transportation system remain underdeveloped or are still being developed.

 

This does not have to be a debate between the elitist minority who prefer a ban, yet have an okada driver who attends errands on their behalf while they sit in their airconditioned offices dreading the hectic traffic on the streets of Accra and other major cities.

Many commuters use the informal motor taxis for the the first and last part of their journeys as there is a massive transport gap between homes and offices and public stops.

During the just ended Year of return festivities, many tourist unable to contain the Accra traffic opted for motorcycles to reach their much anticipated concerts.

 

I firmly believe that the necessary support for and collaboration between private entities like BluBird Technologies, policy makers, Ministry of Transport, and other government agencies driving Ghana’s digital inclusion agenda will lead to promising massive economic gain for the people of Ghana.

#YUNPLUGGED

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