Coastweek -- I
thought that I had written the last about boda bodas but I guess
I was naïve in thinking that they would not make interesting
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
The evolution of
the boda boda culture as told to me by Kachumbari over the last
few weeks makes for horrifying listening and does not also bode
well for the boda boda industry in this country.
The Governor in
Nairobi has been blowing hot and cold about whether or not to
and how to ban this mode of transport from the centre of
As he dithers on
what could be a very unpopular move from both the owners as well
as the general public, the problem that is the boda boda
continues to worsen. In Mombasa, the same issues obtains with
the tuk tuks.
Last year in
December, we had the first incident involving boda bodas that
was nationally televised and also got a lot of column inches in
This was an incident
in which a boda boda operator was knocked by a bus on a major
The bus driver, in
the interest of being a compliant and fair citizen called for
the police to come and case the incident and make a decision on
The boda boda rider,
instead of waiting for the police decided to call his buddies
and they zoomed in from all directions and very rapidly there
was a crowd of around ten riders.
The bus driver
quickly realised that the riders were intent on doing more than
just protest and fortunately by this time most of the passengers
had stepped off the bus.
The riders then
torched the bus.
In the last
fortnight, two incidents have happened that should cause a call
for different approach to managing boda bods in the country –
and not leave it the way it is now.
The first incident
and one that was widely circulated on social media as well in
the electronic and print national media was the one where some
boda boda riders in Nairobi decided to pour oil on Uhuru Highway
as a protest against the banning of their trade from the CBD in
Nairobi as well as the publication of obvious rules and the
intention to enforce the rules.
The so-called rules
included what were already required by the laws of the country.
were many and started with riders required to not ride on the
wrong side of the road.
Plainly put, follow
the Highway Code that requires all vehicles using a road in the
country to drive on the left hand side of the road.
The second was to
restrict passengers to only one pillion rider.
This is the law!
Yet we see cases
where three or four people are carried on one motor bike.
This law makes
absolute sense and is the same requirement the world over.
The bikes are
designed on the basis of one pillion passenger.
expectation is to carry more than one then additional seats are
provided for example in bikes with side cars or ones modified to
be tuk tuks.
The third was that
all riders should carry documents indicating which Saccos they
belonged to, their identification numbers and then wear
reflective jackets that had their identification numbers in a
This would allow
enforcement officers to be able to identify the riders quickly
for whatever reason.
The quid pro quo was
that they should only respond to police officers or county
enforcement officers who were dressed in the appropriate
These are not
The second incident,
which Kachumbari was affected by, was the swarming tendency of
He was driving along
one of the minor roads in the city of Nairobi when he heard a
lot of hooting and very quickly came face to face with nearly a
hundred boda bodas riding at speed in the opposite direction.
They were preceded
by two cars that appeared to be chase cars.
They had their
headlights on and were hooting and weaving through traffic.
Whenever the boda
bodas caught up with the two cars they would slow down and try
and block off the cars but the drivers of the cars would
accelerate forcing the riders to scatter off the road and resume
The bikes were
chasing the two cars in an apparent move to apprehend them for
having knocked down one of the riders who shot straight out of a
side road and was then bumped to the ground by one of the cars.
The driver of the
car involved decided not to wait on the spot but to make his way
to a police station and return with the cops to the scene.
However, one of the
riders quickly who saw the incident quickly mustered support and
kept in touch with the car involved due to the slow moving
The riders quickly
multiplied and the driver of the car realised that his life was
in possible danger due to the unpredictable behaviour of the
boda boda riders.
He decided to drive
differently and turn into chase car mode.
A friend who had
been following him decided to help by increasing numbers.
The two cars were
fortunate to make it to police station without being harmed
though their cars had been pounded by fists whenever they slowed
down in traffic and the riders caught up with them.
One wing mirror had
been yanked off.
On arrival the
drivers of the cars jumped out and ran into the police station
as the officers there also ran out attracted by the cacophony of
the motorcycle horns.
By this time there
were over a hundred boda boda riders in and around the compound
of the police station and some of the officers came out with
guns cocked expecting that there was a possible raid on the
The cops eventually
cooled the situation and accompanied the driver back to the
scene of the accident together with three representatives of the
boda boda swarm.
The rider who had
been knocked was nowhere to be seen – fortunately the driver of
the car had the sense to ask the passenger to take down details
of the registration of the motorbike.
The cops took the
statement of the driver and they then asked the riders who had
accompanied them to call their fellow rider who was affected.
They made to call
him but they said his phone was off – an obvious ploy to avoid
the rider coming to face the law and one could only conjecture
This behaviour of
riders must stop and next week we will propose solutions.
As Kachumbari says,
anarchy is not a solution to problems.
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