It is an indisputable fact that the boda boda sub-sector in the country has grown in leaps and bounds for over a decade now providing employment opportunities, source of livelihood and economic empowerment especially among the majority of our unemployed youths.
The contrary is also true owing to both acts of commission and omission. Boda bodas have now gone completely rogue. They have become a law unto themselves. It’s crazy, but the police are now yielding to the brigands and are becoming increasingly aggressive and morphing into something ugly.
Due to lack of regulatory framework, the industry has become not only a nuisance but also a national security threat attributable to the budding gangland culture and blatant disregard of the law as the primary modus operandi amongst riders.
Thus, the boda boda question can no longer be viewed as a low priority political issue, rather, must be urgently securitised and amplified as a high national security concern. The sector has been left vulnerable making it possible for criminal organized gangs to infiltrate with ease as well as the industry serving as a front to cover up for their crime or to directly aid their activities.
Over the recent past, the country has been recording skyrocketing cases of boda boda related crimes and accidents significantly compromising public safety. This makes it even more difficult for the genuine, hardworking and law abiding sector players to operate with ease not to mention the risk they remain exposed to from within.
Without standing the risk of blanket condemnation as acknowledged above, rogue elements amongst the operators have mutated into the new face of crime and impunity.
In the last two months, boda boda thugs have seized suspects from police custody in Kirinyaga and Embu, frog-marched them to town centres, beaten them up and burnt them in full public glare. All that was heard from the police were the usual platitudes about no stone being left unturned, and perpetrators to face the full force of the law.
Those perpetrators are still roaming free, ready to commit yet another atrocity. The boda boda mobs operate with absolute impunity. They no longer fear the consequences of breaking the law. In fact, they have become a law unto themselves. They are the untouchables. Woe betide any motorist who finds themselves in an accident involving boda bodas.
Previously, when they caused an accident, they fled the scene if they were not badly injured. Today, they mob any motorist unfortunate enough to become involved in an accident with them. They mobilise within seconds, and descend on the scene like flies. They will beat up the motorist, sometimes
fatally, steal from the vehicle then burn it. Yet there have been zero arrests or prosecutions.
Many times, motorists have been forced to “compensate” the boda bodas on the spot, even when it undoubted the rider caused the accident. In some cases, police have just stood by watching nonchalantly. It’s so atrocious.
Boda boda indiscipline and impunity is at its highest. They now ride against oncoming traffic, habitually carry more than the required one pillion passenger, speed like madmen and cut right across traffic from one side to another. They have zero respect for traffic rules. Their mantra is just touch me, you see. Again, police just watch them.
The question is, why is the government letting all this to happen? This is the same government that snuffed out the craziness of another industry that had gone completely rogue, the matatu industry. There was even a phrase coined for it matatu madness. Yet, the government tamed this industry and turned the operators from hyenas to kittens within less than a month!
So, if the government really wants to tame the rogue boda bodas, it only needs a week. There is no need to regurgitate the measures that need to be taken to rein in boda bodas. They are a well sung refrain by now. The government has pronounced itself on this matter ad nauseum!
Boda bodas have become an integral part of the country’s electioneering and campaigns. With the current impunity and thuggish behaviour, and awash with campaign cash, they pose a huge risk of destabilisation of the country, especially in the event of post-election tension or unrest.