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Deadly ‘game’ on the streets of Nairobi that is endangering many lives – VIDEO


Boda boda are a fast, efficient, flexible and relatively affordable mode of transport and there is no doubt they have made life easier for many Nairobians.

From helping commuters beat traffic jam to making deliveries around the city, boda boda is to most Nairobians – who don’t own cars – a necessity.

THE BAN

In spite of all that, in January 2018 the Nairobi County Government banned boda boda from operating within the city’s CBD.

Motorcycles transporting goods were however exempted from the ban.

And with the ban, the streets of Nairobi’s CBD have since been turned into a play ground for cat and mouse games between defiant boda boda operators and Nairobi County askaris.

Almost two years down the line, the riders are still operating in the town centre, illegally.

The operators have on two occasions challenged the ban in court and lost the case.

First in October 2016, 12 petitioners, describing themselves as the Boda Boda Sacco, moved to court to challenge the ban and a judgment was delivered by the late Justice Joseph Louis Onguto.

“I need only confirm that the law allows the 1st Respondent (County Government of Nairobi) to do what it is doing: regulating public transport within its jurisdiction and this includes pointing where the public transporters may or may not go, park or pass. This court therefore declines the invitation by the Petitioners, to inhibit the 1st Respondent from undertaking its constitutional mandate,” read part of the judgment.

In the second case, High Court Justice Roselyn Aburii, in 2018, dismissed a case by Starehe MP Charles Njagua challenging the Nairobi County Government’s decision to ban boda bodas from accessing the CBD.

In her ruling, Justice Aburii stated that the county has the right to enforce the laws.

Boda Boda riders turn a roundabout to pick and drop passengers along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT
Boda Boda riders turn a roundabout to pick and drop passengers along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT

TRAFFIC RULES

Even with the court ruling in favour of the ban, the riders are still operating within the city centre, but now risking the lives of many road users, including their own.

In their dogged determination to evade arrest, the operators have become notorious for ignoring all traffic rules.

They will pick and drop passengers at undesignated points, make wrong turns and even ride on the wrong side of the road, posing danger to all road users.

Some of these riders park in the middle of the road as they wait for their passengers.

On many occasions, you will see a rider hovering around aimlessly while scouting for passengers. But they are ever wary of the askaris.

Once the much-awaited passenger comes along, the operator will dangerously maneuver, by weaving in and out of the busy traffic.

Often, passengers get caught up in the skirmishes between the riders and the city askaris.

But this deadly game cat and mouse between the riders and the operators has come a great coast.

Statistics released by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) in September 2019 indicate that at least 684 people were killed in motorcycle-related accidents.

THE ACCIDENTS

Boda boda riders accounted for the most deaths, recording 459 compared with 365 from the previous year.

Passenger deaths also rose, with 225 fatalities recorded, and compared with 173 the previous year, a 30 percent increase.

Reported injuries from boda boda accidents also increased.

This year 812 riders have been seriously injured in road accidents, which represents a 99 percent rise compared to 408 riders who were similarly injured in 2018.

The number of passengers, with serious injuries also increased from 280 to 505, an 80 percent rise.

In August 2019, County Roads and Transport Executive Hitan Majevdia said Nairobi County Government is in the process of putting up six boda boda sheds to act as designated holding ground for use by the motorcycle riders.

Almost one month down the line, there is no visible boda boda shed in the city, even as the number of boda boda continue to increase.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that a total of 195,253 new motorcycles were registered in 2018 alone.

As Nairobians wait upon Nairobi County government to put up designated sheds for the boda boda operators, more lives continue to be endangered by the reckless boda boda riders everyday on the streets of Nairobi.