, NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 9 – Members of Parliament have overwhelmingly voted to persuade the government to set up a Sh1 billion fund to facilitate training and empowerment of the youth in the motorcycle transport businesses.
The Private Members Motion by Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa further calls on the government to "urgently provide a policy and legal framework to regulate this fast growing and vital sector of our society."
The Motion follows concerns over rising accidents involving the boda bodas, in "this fast growing sector that is providing affordable motorised and non-motorised means of transport to many Kenyans all over the country."
"Many accidents are happening because most of the riders cannot afford the cost of private driving schools and end up driving the motorcycles without the training," Mr Wamalwa said and added that the State should recognise boda bodas as an independent artisan sector.
The MP urged the government to establish at least one "special driving school" with a commandant for every county to ensure professional training.
"We should ensure that these riders plus their families are fully covered under the National Health Insurance Fund," the MP added.
These efforts he said would ensure that "we are doing what they desire – to earn a living and be empowered."
While seconding the Motion Kisumu West MP Olago Olouch regretted that there were no clear regulations guiding the industry creating confusion and loop holes for corruption and exploitation.
"Boda boda operators are criminalised. They are not respected members of society," he said.
He accused council askaris across the country and the police of mistreating the youths who are seeking a mode of living.
"Where they are forced to accept conditions set by council offices and police without consultations result to confrontations," Mr Wamalwa said.
Legislators who supported the Motion underscored the need to help the sector grow saying it was helping improve the economies of remote areas and create jobs across the country.
"In many areas where it is not possible to transport food stuffs in a vehicle then boda boda are used. These can carry up to 200kg of foodstuffs. This helps farmers transport their goods to the market," said Garsen MP Danson Mungatana.
Narok South MP Nkoidila ole Lankas added: "I was so surprised they earn two dollars (Sh160) a day because most of their earnings go to the traffic police. They need to be protected by the Central Government."
Mr Lankas proposed that the youth fund should be expanded to ensure that the operators can access the money as individuals and not as a group as required.
"The Ministry of Roads should consider putting boda boda lanes on our roads because this is what is causing the accidents," said Nominated MP Rachael Shebesh.
In his response, Roads Assistant Minister Lee Kinyanjui underscored the importance of the sector and reiterated that they should receive support from the government.
"Whenever we have had any problems with our mainstream matatu transport we have had boda bodas coming to our aid," he said.
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