MISGUIDANCE

Boda boda riders block Kitengela highway protesting arrest of colleagues defying Mutua ban

The operators left their motorbikes on the highway

In Summary

 

• The boda boda riders were angered by the arrest of nine of their colleagues, seven of them in Machakos town.

• The arrival of the police angered other operators who moved to the Athi River-Kitengela highway waving placards before abandoning their bikes on the road.

 

Boda boda riders briefly blocked traffic along the Athi River-Kitengela road after several of their colleagues were arrested for defying Governor Alfred Mutua's ban on their operations for 14 days.

The operators left their motorbikes on the highway after learning that nine of their colleagues had been arrested, seven of them in Machakos town.

On Monday, Mutua banned all Maruti (small Indian-made taxi), tuk tuk and boda boda operations for a fortnight, saying they offered no social spacing as the country fights the spread of coronavirus.

Two of those arrested were freed after explaining that they were attending to emergency matters. 

Police confiscated the motorbikes of the defiant operators.

Tension was high in Athi River as riot control police officers dispersed the motorbike operators.

The operators' chairman Isaiah Wambua said two the riders were seized.

"Some traders took to the streets in protest and demanded their release. The county sought backup from the police officers," Wambua said.

He said the arrival of the police angered other operators who moved to the Athi River-Kitengela highway waving placards before abandoning their bikes on the road.

Yesterday, Governor Mutua said the ban on the two-wheel and three-wheel taxis was not punitive but meant to safeguard the operators' health.

He urged Machakos residents to continue staying at home.

He asked leaders to be in the frontline sensitising Kenyans on the seriousness and adverse impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I want to thank those who obeyed my directive. People should be made aware that this coronavirus pandemic is serious and it can easily wipe out the society if not contained," he said.

"History has shown that those who protect themselves survive and make money later. So, let's be careful because if we all die, only cockroaches and rats will be left in this country," said Mutua.

The county inspectorate and the police have been deployed to enforce the ban and other intervention measures.

Wambua said the boda boda association is seeking an audience with the governor as some microfinanciers have started seizing bikes after the owners failed to pay loans.

The chairman also said they will be pleading with the lenders to extend the repayment period for the two weeks the members will be out of business.

Athi River boda boda secretary Victor Masavu appealed to the national government to discuss the matter of loans with banks and other lenders.

"Also the county government should write to Family Bank to see if they can stop demanding loan repayment for three months. We will write to them and explain that we cannot pay since we are under lockdown," Masavu said.

He urged members to stay at home and wait for the ban to be lifted.

– mwaniki fm