NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 3 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission and Bodaboda operators have teamed up in a bid to foster peace during and after the referendum.,
Bodaboda for Peace Project team leader Mark Matunga said more than 600 operators on Tuesday participated in peace caravans to urge the youth against being used to fan chaos during the referendum period.
He said the Bodaboda project is a timely venture considering the largely destructive role played by the youth in the violence experienced in the country after the 2007 disputed Presidential election.
"They are a key segment of the young Kenyan community and they possess a deep community penetration capacity through the transport services hence the belief that they are key grassroots change agents."
He appealed to operators to act as good Samaritans and assist voters in getting to polling centres.
"Even as we offer transport services to Kenyans, our appeal is you provide services to those who might be sickly and unable to get to the polling stations; to those who might be slightly elderly and might be unable to get themselves to the polling station. We ask you provide these services to Kenyans," he said.
Zebedeo Moreka, a Bodaboda operator said that government should facilitate them in the national planning and conflict prevention as the sector has helped many youths to turn away from a life of hopelessness and crime.
"The Bodaboda sector has helped very many youths who did not have formal employment and had turned to mugging and other violent crime; but we need to be facilitated and also to be recognised by the government.”
NCIC Commissioner Ahmed Yasin lauded the initiative saying it took account of economic livelihood and conflict and urged those in the transport sector to play a bigger role in preaching peace.
"No matter the outcome of the referendum, Kenya will undergo some transformation and we all have a duty to ensure that peace prevails."
Meanwhile, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission planned to hold a peace vigil on Tuesday night in a bid to ensure an incident-free vote.
The Commission which has partnered with other organisations including the United Nations Development Programme under the banner of Uwiano Platform for Peace earlier held a peace procession before assembling at the KICC.
Commission Vice Chairperson Mary Onyango said they would use the occasion to remember those who lost their lives during past electoral clashes.
"At 6:59pm when we light the candles we appeal to all Kenyans to just take a minute to say a prayer for Kenya," she said.
She urged Kenyans to remain peaceful and respect the verdict of the majority as well as the position of the minority.
"History is going to judge us according to how we use this moment. In 1963 the constitutional moment was given to our fore fathers and they used it, so what we are going to do as a country tomorrow is what we are going to leave for this country when we are long gone,” she said.
Meanwhile, Kenyan youths have called on all to remain peaceful as the country gears up for the Constitution referendum.
The youths urged all Kenyans to be patriotic and spread the message of peace.
“Kenyans must put an end to ethnicity or ethnicity will put an end to Kenya,” said Trevor Kibet.
Diana Onyonyi, a Global Teen Leader asked all voters not to doubt the power and influence of their vote at this crucial moment the country was in.
“Our key message is that conflict has been part of life since the beginning of time and it does not have to degenerate to a tragedy such as the one the country faced in 2007. As a country we need to move past issues relating to conflict and violence,” she said.