Indiscriminate Police Crackdown on Bodaboda Operators Burdening Youth With Debt

Bodabodas rounded up

Without a doubt, Bodaboda Industry is one of the biggest economic drivers in Kenya. According to the Motorcycle Assemblers Association of Kenya (MAAK), there are about 600,000 commercial motorcycles currently operating in Kenya, each earning an average of Sh1,000 a day which translates to an annual turnover of Sh219 billion.

With the inflating levels of unemployment, many youths have joined the trade because it has no strict formal restrictions like the matatu industry which is controlled by cartels, unwilling to let new players join it.

However, following increased incidences of insecurity and bodaboda operators congesting the CBD, Nairobi County Government banned bodaboda operations ferrying customers to and from CBD. Only branded delivery motorbikes, carrier bikes and those offering courier services are be allowed within the CBD but are not to be parked anywhere within the CBD, except if they have paid the parking fee.

These bodaboda has proved to be indispensable in running errands for many E-commerce businesses particularly deliveries. But police have been getting in the way of business with random bodaboda crackdown over petty offenses that have seen both the riders and the bikes spend a couple of nights in police custody.

This cat mice game always starts the same and has morphed into a vicious cycle. Over the weekend photos of nabbed motorbikes huddled and sun-basking in a police parking lot, and a clip of Kanjos forcefully snatching a bike away from its rider over illegally accessing the CBD making rounds on Facebook highlighted the plight of bobaboda operators at the mercy of a ruthless regime.

“Police at Muthaiga and Pangani were in no moods on Monday. Two hours after being caught and taken into court, each person is summoned individually and slapped with a fine. Makangas without uniform and card were being slapped with Ksh 20,000 fine. Those caught riding without a helmet, reflector jacket were fined Ksh 2000 or face one month in prison. Riding without a Driving License or Insurance one was fined Ksh 20,000 or two-month jail. The fines were really hefty, if you don’t have the requirements, please don’t ride to town,” one victim shared his experience.

This bite in the arses of bodaboda operators seems orchestrated and intentional to send a strong message to concerned parties. Looks like the same forces are equally hitting hard on other operators giving matatus a run for their money, threatening their profits.

The National Safety and Transport Authority yesterday blacklisted Swvl and Little shuttle for violating operation rules. Director General Francis Meja in a press statement on Monday said the two hailing app companies have been engaging in commuter service business within Nairobi contrary to its license.

The two app-based hailing services have disrupted the public transit in Kenya, getting customers to destinations with fewer stops, at affordable prices while maintaining high quality and safety standards.

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