'HARASSED BY POLICE'

Boda boda operators want to be listed as essential services during curfew

They say some have registered with firms for delivery of food, sometimes medicine

In Summary

• Police spokesman disagrees that what was witnessed on Friday was entirely the use of excessive force, says police should not be provoked into using force.

• Riders say they support measures to contain Covid-19 'but have reservations on the manner in which police conducted curfew enforcement'. 

Boda boda operators in a demo in the CBD las year on July 31.
WHO WILL DELIVER? Boda boda operators in a demo in the CBD las year on July 31.
Image: FILE

Boda boda operators have complained of harassment by police as the dusk-to-dawn curfew came into force on Friday. 

Under the umbrella Boda Boda Association, the cyclists noted that while they appreciate efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, they had reservations in the manner the police enforced it. 

“Yesterday (Friday), we received complaints from the Machakos, Narok, here in Nairobi and it was chaos everywhere… We are disappointed in how the police responded to the whole curfew enforcement,” association chairman Kelvin Mbadi said.

They also want to be listed among the essentials service providers.

Mbadi on Saturday some of its members have signed delivery agreements with organisations to deliver food, money and sometimes medicine.

In his view, these are essential services and are in one way linked to them.

Asked whether they had lodged a formal complaint and proposal to the government, Mbadi said, “It’s just been a night since the curfew began and from the first response, we now want to collect our thoughts and try reaching the government.”

Mbadi spoke to the Star on phone. 

The curfew has been received with mixed reactions with reports of police brutality, harassment and assault recorded from various parts of the country.

One victim of the Friday chaos is Sammy Kariuki, a bodaboda operator in Ongata Rongai. He was part of a cat and mouse chase between the police and operators and was hit allegedly by one of the officers.

Luckily, he says, the knock was not hard enough to wreck him off business. He was in business when he spoke to the Star on Saturday. 

National Police Service spokesman Charles Owino disagrees that what was witnessed on Friday was entirely the use of excessive force. 

He argues that civil disobedience is not a right and to restrain this, the police invoke force as per the law. 

Appearing in a local TV interview, Owino said, “We will investigate cases where officers used excessive force, but police must not be provoked because then if it exceeds a certain point they can engage force.” 

Edited by R.Wamochie