E-bike riders reap big from brisk business along lake shores

E-bikes are powerful and they can carry heavy loads and cover long-distances

In Summary

• E-bike rider Akach said so many of his colleagues are yearning to own e-rides and he has been at the forefront to help them acquire e-bikes at WeTu.

• He said the current payment method with the organisation is based on battery usage.

The dashboard shows the remaining battery power.
The dashboard shows the remaining battery power.
Image: FILE

As the world embraces clean energy solutions, boda boda rider Philip Akach is among those who have transitioned from gasoline motorbike to e-bike.

“My electric bike (e-bike) has been a blessing to me since it has greatly saved me from the soaring cost of fuel. Nowadays, unlike before, I am able to cater to the needs of my young family because my daily earnings have increased tremendously as my clientele base widens," he said.

Akach operates in Homa Bay town.

The 27-year-old boasts of being among the pioneers in the boda boda industry from the lake region who have fully transitioned from using gasoline-powered motorbikes to the more efficient e-bikes.

This is in line with President William Ruto’s clarion call for the introduction of E-Mobility by September this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The rider started using e-bikes in January this year.  “I have been able to wade through rough and muddy-murram roads with less effort during the rainy seasons while some of my boda boda colleagues either get stuck or struggle to manoeuvre," he said.

He added that e-bikes are made with powerful features as they can carry heavy loads and cover long-distances in different terrains.

“I love it because it is environmental-friendly for it doesn’t emit any smoke, and this helps in reducing pollution,” he said.

He recalled when We!Hub Victoria Limited (WeTU) a social enterprise founded in 2019 came calling, he became hooked to the idea.

As the E-mobility pioneer in the western Kenya region, WeTu continues to promote and rent out e-bikes for cheaper and eco-friendly mobility.

“We are the pioneer organisation to commercialise and promote e-mobility to attain income sustainability and environmental conversation objectives in the lake belt region," WeTu head of marketing and communications Isaac Onyonyi said.

E-bike rider Akach said so many of his colleagues are yearning to own e-rides and he has been at the forefront to help them acquire e-bikes at WeTu.

He said the current payment method with the organisation is based on battery usage.

“Initially we used to rent the e-bike at Sh600 daily, but now we pay Sh200 per fully charged battery. Mine has got two so I pay Sh400. On a good working days I pay Sh800," Akach said. He said this is the best option as the payment arrangement offers better returns.

With his so far acquired knowledge and skills in handling e-bikes, Akach advised that a rider should move at a speed of 40Kmph and below, and set it at module 2 for the battery to survive longer distances.

“If you use module 3, the battery consumption will be higher and depletes faster. Another advantage of using e-bikes from WeTu is that even if the battery is at zero per cent, one can ride at low speed and reach the office to change it. You don’t need to call for backup battery replacement or push the bike,” he said.

Getruda Akomo, a fishmonger at Nyagwethe Centre in Suba South constituency is full of praise for the new e-bike. She said it is set to promote brisk business and open new opportunities among the youth and the fisher folks.

“I am happy because our fish catch and other goods will safely and quickly reach the markets in a few hours. Every time I use it, I have never been stranded on the road as is the norm with motorbikes that run out of fuel,” she said.

WeTu operates along the beaches with its 12 hubs (operation bases) dotting the shores of Lake Victoria in Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori and Siaya counties.

“As a noble initiative, we introduced e-bikes in a pilot phase in Katito town, Kisumu county and Homa Bay town. Currently, we have 12 e-bikes and intend to increase the number to 37 by the end of August 2023,” Onyonyi said.

The organisation also boasts of using solar energy to provide solutions with social impact such as leasing solar fishing lanterns to omena fishermen and providing clean and safe drinking water.

 Onyonyi said, “We pump, filter and dispense clean drinking water by solar-powered ATM machines, make cooling ice flakes for fish preservation and agricultural produce, and make eco-friendly lamp floaters to minimise the destruction of marine twigs.”

Kisumu county director of climate change Evans Gichana said a Baseline Emission Inventory Report released in 2022 estimated that the road transport sector including vehicles and motorbikes in Kenya accounts for 85 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

To keep our environment clean, Gichana urged motorbike riders to shift from gasoline to e-bikes, adding that e-mobility is a global trend that needs support.

He stressed the need to have a community-led approach to critically sensitise the public on how to reduce greenhouse emissions.

“Governor Anyang Nyong’o led-administration has partnered with key stakeholders such as UNEP, UN-Habitat and organisations like WeTu to conserve our ecosystem in the county," Gichana said.

"We launched e-mobility in 2021 and have put in place policies and Climate Action Plans to drive this agenda."

He said Kisumu is among areas that are working towards clean cities.

“We urge our residents to embrace initiatives like “Free Car Day” in order for them to leave their cars at home and walk to work to reduce greenhouse gases,” Gichana appealed.

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star