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Ashaiman: Scores injured after angry ‘okada' riders battle with police

By Kweku Antwi Jnr

Scores of residents and motorbike riders who use motorbikes for commercial transport, popularly known as ‘okada’ in the Ashaiman Municipality of the Greater Accra Region sustained various degrees of injuries on Tuesday when they clashed with the Ashaiman Police Command during a meeting.

The police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse hundreds of okada riders who had besieged the Ashaiman Police Command upon the invitations of the Ashaiman Divisional Police Commander, ACP Peter Gyimah.

The Police threw tear gas to control the protest march, which took the form of stone throwing, vandalizing and chanting, thus bringing activities at the entire Business District of the Municipality to a halt.

The okada riders had launched a protest against court fines they are to pay as a result of unlawful riding of motor cycles within the Ashiaman Municipality.

The General Secretary of the Okada Riders Association of Ashaiman, David Teye, told PrimeNewsGhana in an interview that they held a 'peaceful' meeting and invited the Ashaiman Divisional Police Commander, ACP Peter Gyimah, in order to put their grievances across.

He explained that during the deliberations, they compalined to the Police Commander about some arrests that have been made previous day, so the Police Commander marched them to the Motor Traffic Transport Department (MTTD) for the motors to be released to them.

David Teye noted that at the MTTD station, the MTTD Commander allegedly turned the matter against them and this infuriated the okada riders who started throwing stones at the police.

He added that the police started firing tear gas and rubber bullets at them leading to the injuries.

The Secretary said the injured were sent to various health centres for treatments and were discharged.

The Ashaiman Divisional Police Commander, ACP Peter Gyimah, when PrimeNewGhana contacted explained that school children in the Municipality even demonstrated against the rampant knocking down of pedestrians by motor cyclists which had taken an alarming tone.

“So we decided to educate the town folks and the riders about the dangers of riding carelessly adding, “we have been doing this for the past two weeks, so last Thursday, we decided we have to enforce the law, so we mounted an operation and arrested some of the riders”, ACP Gyimah said.

He said, they released those who had genuine documents like driver’s license, road worthy and insurance certificates, but sent those without those documents to court.

ACP Gyimah said after the court dealt with them, they were waiting for them to come for their motor bicycles, but, “all we realized was that they were mobilizing themselves. I went there personally to find out what their problem was, and they complained about the charges of the court”.

ACP Gyimah observed that, after talking to them about why they could not ride motor cycles without proper documentation, they went away only to reconvene, “that was why we called for reinforcement and they came and dispersed them with teargas”.

Meanwhile, those who trooped to the Ashaiman Divisional Police Command left their motorbikes since the police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them. The Police has therefore convey them to the Regional Police Command for identification and possible collection.

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