Boda boda operators in Nairobi protest ban
Boda boda operators in Nairobi County on Wednesday held demonstrations over the county government’s decision to ban their operations within the city centre.
This follows the ongoing massive crackdown on hawkers and boda boda operators in Nairobi city centre by the county government Inspectorate Department officers in collaboration with the police which is on its sixth day and is set to continue through the first week of March.
The operators camped outside the office of Governor Mike Sonko waiting to present their petition while wielding placards and honking sirens demanding that they be addressed by the governor, who is apparently out of the country.
United Boda Boda Welfare Association chairman Mr Kenneth Onyango said that the protests were informed by the ongoing sting operation which has seen them flushed from the central business district together with the hawkers.
He claimed that the boda boda operators have been treated like criminals during the operations where the involved officers have been clobbering the riders and also impounding their motorcycles which are thereafter taken to the county headquarters and others to the general store.
“We are against the operation that is currently ongoing and as we are speaking right now most of the bikes have been detained for weeks and others for months and everyday they are charging Sh1,000 for every bike,” Mr Onyango said.
However, director of operations at Nairobi City Inspectorate Department Peter Mbaya has termed the operation a success, saying that since the start of the exercise normalcy has returned to the streets of Nairobi.
“It has been a success as you can see a lot of improvements has been recorded since it started. The streets are clear with whoever you see are always on the run and even traffic has improved,” said Mr Mbaya on Tuesday.
The chairman said that since the crackdown started last week February 22, more than 400 motorbikes have been impounded and 300 of their members have also been arrested claiming that all the tribulations they go through have persisted despite the fact that they pay Sh3,000 every month to City Hall to operate within the CBD.
In January, the county banned boda boda operators from the city centre in the wake of increased cases of insecurity in the CBD where they were to drop their passengers in areas outside the city centre such as City Stadium and Ngara.
Mr Onyango has called for the county government to set for them designated areas to operate within just like it has been done for taxi drivers and matatu as they also pay revenue to the county just like the two mentioned.
“We want unconditional release of the motorcycles, designated areas of operation for our members as there is one for taxis and matatus as we are also paying revenue to the country and so we are not second class citizens so we need value for our money,” he said.
He said that they had met Governor Sonko before and they agreed on several measures to put in place to be allowed to ply their trade within the city centre including giving their members an identification cards for easy identification as they had been complaints that some of them were involved in committing crimes in the city.
“We had a meeting with him before and we agreed on certain issues which we have already done. Giving our members IDs to identify themselves and we have already started doing that,” said the chair.
He has complained that the crackdown has led them to lose income daily as they cannot ferry their customers as they used to do before, saying that less than 70 per cent of the boda boda riders are currently making Sh300 on average down from Sh1, 000 they used to make before.
“We do not work because of the combined operation as our boda bodas are clobbered with rungus like criminals. We are losing at least Sh700 every day,” he said.