Boda boda riders cry foul after being banned from Nairobi CBD

January 23, 2018 6:40 pm
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The boda boda operators spoke after the county government placed a notice in local dailies banning their operations from the CBD and termed the move as ill-advised and a knee-jerk reaction that will not eliminate criminals in the city/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 – Boda Boda riders in Nairobi have accused Governor Mike Sonko of reneging on a promise he gave them during the campaigns that he will not kick them out of the Central Business District.

The boda boda operators spoke after the county government placed a notice in local dailies banning their operations from the CBD and termed the move as ill-advised and a knee-jerk reaction that will not eliminate criminals in the city.

“Yes there may be a few rogue elements in our ranks, but does that mean they condemn the whole industry with over 2,000 riders?” Charles Gichira Chairman of Nairobi County Association posed.

He said the riders are ready to sit down and dialogue with Sonko to help him and the authorities smoke out a few ‘rotten apples’ amongst them.

“It’s not all riders who are criminals in this city, differentiate the same. We are willing to help to smoke out the criminals.”

“I’ve tried to sit down with Sonko, he has refused,” he said adding that “we are ready to pay taxes just like taxis.”

He vowed said the county government should “stop dreaming,” because they are in the CBD “to stay” despite the ban.

They also accused the county askaris of kicking them out and destroying their motorbikes as they wondered why a governor who campaigned on the platform of defending the lowly would, in turn, be the same one driving them out of the CBD and using cruel means to achieve the objective.

“Sonko promised to build for us shades. He also promised to end the brutality by the council askaris. Now it’s his people who are harassing us, arresting us and mistreating us,” one boda boda rider said.

A section of city residents, who spoke to Capital FM News, urged the county government to offer the boda boda operators an alternative because it is the source of their livelihoods.

“Yes they sometimes cause accidents and drive recklessly but they also have families to feed,” Kariuki said suggesting to the authorities that “they should provide an alternative place to work or demand their retraining.”

In the same line, the Boda Boda Safety Association of Kenya condemned the move by Nairobi County to ban their members from operating within the CBD and vowed not to move an inch promising a bruising battle in court.

“We will go to court to contest the order,” he vowed.

Speaking in Nairobi at a press conference, the Associations National Chairman Kevin Mubadi said their members are not criminals and are ready to help the police smoke out rogue elements.

“We have checked our database and can categorically say that those criminals aren’t our members. We may harbour a few rogue criminals just like any other sector but we shouldn’t condemn an entire industry with 1.2 million riders in Kenya,” he said.

“Our members have been targeted wrongly. We have members who suffer in the hands of criminals too,” he said but added that “these riders are the ones who can arrest the criminals and finish them all.”

The Patron of the Association Mohammed Shidiye said it was a mistake for the County Government of Nairobi to target the biggest single informal employer in the country.

“We want to urge the county government to rescind the decision he has taken. We are ready to engage him (Sonko) through structured dialogue,” the patron said.

“But if he wants to play monkey business with the industry that ensured he was elected, we will deal with him too but legally.”

He took the opportunity to lament at the way their members are treated as if their career choice is not as honourable as lawyers with a briefcase.

He asked where their members will go to noting that most of them only depend on the boda boda to feed their families.

“We have over 800k members, who have families, translating to over 5 million dependants.”

“The day you stop the boda boda business, these young men will have nothing to do. Criminality will increase,” he said.

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