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Anarchy Is Never Solution To The Very Real
Danger From Massing 'Boda Boda' Swarm?

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 material, 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 Nairobi.

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 the newspapers.

This was an incident in which a boda boda operator was knocked by a bus on a major road.

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 culpability.

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.

The requirements 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.

Where the 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 prominent place.

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 uniform.

These are not unreasonable requests.

The second incident, which Kachumbari was affected by, was the swarming tendency of boda bodas.

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 their chase.

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 traffic.

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 station.

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 why!

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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