Boda boda taxis now take rightful place on the roads
By Harold Ayodo
It is a fast emerging mode of transport in the informal sector and is fast expanding.
From Western Kenya to the South Rift and now Central Province, boda boda taxis have been accepted here just like in the Asian sub-continent as an alternative means of transport.
Yet it remains the most criticised mode of transport for because of accidents, even fatalities on our roads.
But the Government, having realised that it is a way that can help alleviate transport chaos, has finally allowed boda boda to take its rightful place in the transport industry.
Recently, traffic police held safety workshops for the cyclists Kisumu.
Traffic officers from Nairobi road safety section, led by Chief Inspector Stephen Oduor gave a lecture at the bus park that was attended by hundreds of the operators.
Drama, however, unfolded as the officers approached the venue of the meeting— the cyclists took to their heels, with some leaving their bicyles behind.
Reason? They believed there was a crackdown on cyclists and that the police had come to arrest them.
The officers, however, allayed their fears, and managed to assemble them under a tree shade for the lectures.
According to Chief Inspector Oduor, police statistics revealed that last year, 306 boda boda operators died as a result of accidents in Western Kenya, including Kisumu, Busia and Kakamega.
"Records indicate that 1,075 operators were seriously injured and 96 per cent subsequently died while undergoing treatment at various hospitals," Oduor said.
The officer said more passengers died as a result of boda boda related accidents—most of which were unreported.
The officer attributes the high number of deaths to bad blood between the operators and Public Service Vehicle drivers (PSVs).
"The operators and PSVs compete for passengers leading to bullying on the roads," he said.
Oduor said said PSV drivers allegedly push the riders off the roads to "teach then a lesson".
He, however, warned that the road was not a preserve of a few.
"The road is meant for pedestrians, riders, drivers and animals. No one is superior," he said.
Last year, Oduor said, 969 pedestrians died in Nyanza while 860 were seriously injured as a result of boda boda and motor vehicle accidents.
He attributed the accidents to disregard for safety rules. "Having respect for the road is an overriding prerequisite," he said.
Addressing the cyclists in local languages (Dholuo, Luhya, Kisii and Swahili) Oduor urged the operators to have roadworthy bicycles.
Recently, Kisumu Mayor Priscah Auma said the council in conjunction with the UN Habitat, planed to construct a separate route for the riders.
Nyanza Police boss Abubakar Jambeni called for by-laws on the cyclists to avoid accidents and congestion within the Central Business District.
"We need laws that clearly define where they should operate for easy policing. This would also enable the council collect revenues," Jambeni said.
Kisumu deputy police boss Nehemiah Lang’at said his office received numerous reports every day on boda boda related accidents.
"We have several unclaimed bicycles in our custody. There are also many accidents and subsequent deaths that are unreported," said Lang’at.