Coastweek -- Towards
the end of last week, we saw clashes between boda boda riders
and matatu operators in Kondele in Kisumu County,
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
It was all about
what I have been writing about over the last few weeks - the
lawlessness of the public transport sector in this country and
especially the urban commuting and perambulation services.
The incident in
Kondele started off in the usual with a boda boda rider being
involved in an altercation with a matatu.
It is not yet clear
who hit who with the matatu driver saying the rider smashed into
the rear of the matatu and the rider saying that he was knocked
over by the matatu.
In any case a bike
is the weaker of the two and in both circumstances; it is the
rider who will come off worse – with damage potentially to both
the human being and the ride.
This is the law of
the jungle and cannot be changed.
Boda boda riders
have to accept that they start off disadvantaged as far as the
pecking order on the road is concerned so whatever accident
happens they will have the greater damage.
The only way that
they can get away with minimum damage is to follow all that the
law requires them to do.
There are many
millions of people who have ridden motorbikes in the years since
they were invented and licensed to be on the road.
The experience of
these many millions have shaped the rules about what riders
should do to protect themselves, their passengers and the
The rules in Kenya
follow the global rules and are indeed good for our riders too.
What we have written
about over the last couple of weeks is no rocket science – it is
just a reaffirmation of what is expected we should do in Kenya
Most of the rest of
the world does it.
That someone would
react to the hoard mentality of the boda boda riders was simply
a matter of time.
The riders have
managed to get away with murder when they have taken the law
into their own hands.
Our law enforcement
agencies do not have sufficient muscle and technology to make
arrests and provide swift justice.
Kudos to matatu
operators of Kondele for reacting positively and creating a
scene that many of us imagined would happen one day but did not
expect to happen so soon.
It is only the
matatu drivers – who have a similar mentality - and convening
power – that can counteract the behaviour of the boda boda
Not even the police
force can do it so efficiently.
The boys in blue (or
jungle fatigues for this kind of operation) will only respond
when all hell breaks loose and someone is needed to restore law
and order to crowds.
This is what they
are best at.
Create a situation
that involves many people fighting, throwing stones and other
missiles, starting fires and damaging property in a public area
- then the boys in blue appear in their Lorries by the dozen
ready with their live bullets and tear gas.
They now also have
water cannons as well.
I do not know what
happened to rubber bullets as these are actually quite effective
in getting people to quickly put up their arms in surrender.
My concern is that
what happened in Kondele last week is setting the stage for
future confrontations across the whole nation between these two
groups of miscreant road users.
Whilst we are
slamming the riders for not obeying the laws, the same is true
about most matatu drivers.
We will see burning
of matatus increase and also creating funeral pyres using
motorbikes become a common occurrence.
anarchy must be nipped in the bud.
It could potentially
take lives of innocent wananchi who are caught in the cross fire
between boda boda riders and matatu drivers.
responsible for transport and security must quickly rise to the
occasion and take the bull by the horns.
I would also like to
see a major shift in who conducts the training for the operators
of the vehicles and motorbikes.
We should make the
Ministry under which vocational training falls to comes into the
fray as I believe and insist that training the drivers of
matatus and the boda boda operators should be made vocational
training and not simply qualifying for a license.
These people are
starting or working in a specific vocation and they should be
adequately prepared for the vocation.
A rider or driver is
the CEO of the unit which they are operating.
They need to manage
a lot more than simply driving the unit they have been given to
They have a whole
series of responsibilities that are multiplied by the number of
people they carry.
These riders and
drivers need to learn about how to work safely – that is driving
and doing so defensively.
They need to learn
about the proper care and basic operational maintenance of the
ride – when they can do it themselves and when it needs
They need to learn
about their responsibility – and accountability – for the safety
of their customers and also their tool of trade, the vehicle and
They need to
understand the value and returns expected from the operation of
whatever they are in charge of.
I strongly propose
that the training and licensing and continuous improvement
courses for matatu drivers, boda boda riders, lorry drivers and
operators of all commercial vehicles whatever the size and
capacity should be completely rethought and taken away from
driving schools and put into vocational training institutions
across the country starting with basic training at county
polytechnics for certification and going up to diploma courses
for specialised circumstances and those who wish to progress
further in the profession.
The apex should be
degrees in transportation and logistics management or whatever
the curriculum developers will come up with.
We need to
completely relook at how we manage public transport in the
country and have a generic makeover of the system and I offer to
help the powers that be to work this out.
I hope and trust
that there are many like-minded professionals that would be
willing to put a little bit of time to make this significant
change to Kenya Inc.
This change would
dignify the rider and driver and make them an important and well
controlled and drilled part of the economy.
I am sure that the
return to the GDP of Kenya would be huge in terms of the lower
costs of operations, the reduction in the number of debilitating
accidents which also reduce the cost of damage to vehicles.
I could go on and on
about this opportunity.
As Kachumbari says,
we need a radical change to how we manage the important but as
yet to be characterised vocation that is the professional
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