PAID PEANUTS

We're exploited by politicians, then ignored — Rift boda bodas

Operators complain they work hard to market politicians and want their sector improved

In Summary

•The operators say they had been playing a great role in campaigns marketing some aspirants but said they are paid peanuts.

• Eldoret has over 5,000 boda boda operators and representative Jeoffrey Juma said they will change tack and only deal with politicians through Saccos and organised groups.

Governor Jackson Mandago meets boda boda operators at Kapseret in Uasin Gishu on February 6
WOOING RIDERS: Governor Jackson Mandago meets boda boda operators at Kapseret in Uasin Gishu on February 6
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Boda boda operators in Eldoret and elsewhere in the North Rift have complained of being exploited and underpaid by politicians during  campaigns.

The operators say they had been playing a great role in marketing some of the aspirants but in return they are paid peanuts.

Eldoret has more than 5,000 boda boda operators and representative Jeoffrey Juma said they will change tack and only deal with the politicians through Saccos and organised group.

“From our assessment, it is true boda boda operators play a wide role in campaigns but many of us end up being paid peanuts or just being wasted," Juma said.

He said politicians spent more money to print expensive reflector jackets to give to the riders who in turn are paid little to wear the same jackets for long periods.

“We are major supporters of these politicians and those who succeed end up completely transforming their lives but we are simply left with the reflector jackets and nothing else to change our lives," Juma said.

He said political leaders like using boda boda operators because the riders are always mobile and easily move to many areas transporting clients.

Another leader of the riders in Eldoret, Charles Mbithi, said they are given campaign photos, manifestos and other material to distribute or market politicians but the riders earn little for the work.

“In many cases a rider just ends up being given lunch and around Sh100 as payment. The politicians take advantage of the riders and misuse us greatly," Mbithi said.

He said campaigns for politicians end up being costly for them because in some cases riders lose clients depending on who they are campaigning for.

“Some clients don’t like using riders aligned to politicians. At times you put on a jacket bearing a portrait of a certain politician and then find a client who doesn’t like that  politician," Mbithi said.

He said these are the same politicians who speak ill of boda boda riders after being elected. "During campaigns we are good, after they win we are given all manner of names including being branded as criminals," Mbithi said.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago has urged the riders to strengthen their Saccos and use the groups to negotiate for better support that can transform their lives.

Mandago said the sector has expanded and attracted large numbers of youth countrywide, hence,  there was need to better handling of the sector.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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