Robert Manyara NAKURU (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s fast growing motorcycle taxi
(boda boda) industry, which has become an easier
means of income for thousands of unemployed youth,
would be shaken should the government proceed with
the introduction of a proposed third-party insurance
cover, operators say.
Henry Rotich, cabinet
secretary for National Treasury and Planning, during
his budget presentation in parliament on June 13,
proposed amendment of Insurance Motor Vehicle Third
Party Risks Act to introduce a new regulation that
all motorcycle taxis take a scheme that insures
against damage to their motorbikes or injuries of
passengers and pedestrians during an accident.
This means that boda boda operators would spend
about 7,000 Kenyan shillings (70 U.S. dollars) more
annually to subscribe to the cover, bringing the
total to as much as 130 dollars, some boda boda
owners told Xinhua on Thursday.
Cliff Nyakundi, a motorcycle taxi operator in
Nakuru town, said implementation of the policy would
eat into his savings as the business becomes
unpredictable considering the rising number of youth
joining the industry.
"I hope the government will consult us before it
tables the amendment in Parliament," he said.
"Nowadays the competition for customers is stiff.
"You are lucky if you make a profit of eight
dollars a day," said Nyakundi, who joined the
industry in 2010.
"The insurance cover should not be punitive.
"It should be affordable to all of us.
"We are also paying monthly taxes to the county
government," he said.
"For boda boda, 120 dollars is a lot of money."
Douglas Omuse, who operates a hired motorbike
taxi, said he is not sure if he would continue with
the business if the government indeed implement the
proposed policy, adding that his earning has been
falling in the past year as more motorcycle taxis
appear on the roads.
"In 2018, I would work from dawn to dusk and make
30 dollars because there was a high demand of my
services from parents taking their kids to school
and grocers picking vegetables from the main market
in Nakuru town," he said.
"But these days, we are many and located almost
in every corner of this town.
"Making 10 dollars a day takes a lot of effort."
Every day, Omuse said, he has to give the owner
of the motorbike three dollars for using the taxi, a
target that proves challenging during the rainy
season as passengers prefer covered tricycle taxis (tuk
"Sometimes you are forced to pay the owner from
the savings, then try to recover the losses by
working long hours when it’s not raining," he said.
"I would rather look for a job in Uganda than
work without much profit, should the policy come to
effect and the owner increases the daily returns to
five or six dollars," Omuse said.
Tom Nyamache, an economist, sees the government’s
proposition as a viable means of boosting its
revenue, considering the attractiveness of the
business among the many unemployed youth.
The sector now employs more than 500,000 people,
most of them young people, generating a revenue of
about 21 million dollars in direct taxes to the
National Treasury and Planning, according to the
Motorcycle Assemblers Association of Kenya.
"The business is highly unregulated in Kenya and
introducing the insurance would be one way of
streamlining it while earning the government a
revenue," Nyamache said.
It is important that the government consider
subsidizing the insurance for the youth who are
starting off the business and are unable to secure
the insurance, he said.