• Research addressed concerns around boda boda transport and security challenges, It covered 24 counties, 5,811 riders interviewed.
• Serious crimes were exposed, including robbery with violence, drugs trafficking, even murder
Boda bodas may be convenient, but they're also a grave danger on the roads and quite a few riders are involved in robbery with violence, drugs trafficking, even murder.
If there's a crime you can think of, boda boda riders have done it. And they, too, are crime victims.
A report released on Wednesday by the National Crime Research Centre, 'Fighting Crime Through Research,' covered 2018. It covered 24 counties, 5,811 people were interviewed - police, traffic officers, crime statisticians, safety officials and riders.
Most numbers came from police records.
“Boda bodas are increasingly a very popular and entrenched means of transport. However, there are worrying concerns the subsector is increasingly associated with crimes, traffic accidents and impunity with grave implications for public safety,” the report reads.
The aim was to establish the extent of boda boda-related crime, root causes, perpetrators, mode of operations and consequences. It aimed to identify existing control measures, their effectiveness in reducing crime and make recommendations.
In 2018 alone, riders caused 3,877 deaths through dangerous riding, stole 3,774 times, breached public order and created public disturbance 3,328 times and stole motorcycles and motorcycle parts 3,227 times.
There were 2,778 cases of assault involving the riders. 2,578 cases of robbery and robbery with violence, 2,570 cases of riding under influence of alcohol, 2,415 cases of possession and usage of dangerous drugs, 2,053 cases of handling and trafficking of dangerous drugs and 1,884 cases of murder involving the riders.
Further,research established 1,279 cases of kidnapping involving the riders, 1,128 bribery cases, 868 defilements, 839 rape cases, 775 cases of smuggling goods across borders, 687 thefts of motor vehicle parts, 638 cases of fraud and forgery, 624 of handling stolen property and 554 burglaries.
The report says there were 506 cases of motorcycle hijacking involving the riders, 493 of tax evasion, 482 indecent assaults, 483 illegal possession and smuggling of firearms and weapons, 577 cases of malicious damage to property, 363 cattle rustling, 198 procuring of abortions, 203 possession and smuggling of forest and wildlife products and 193 cases of handling contrabands and counterfeiting.
Riders were involved in 173 cases of carjacking, 148 human trafficking, 99 incest, 94 poaching, 56 offenses against tourists, 41 bestiality and 22 sodomy cases.
In 2018, researchers reported that boda boda riders were involved in 2,359 accidents, 1,187 robberies and stealing, involved in 83 lynch mobs. They fought and breached public order amongst themselves 49 times, played loud music near a school compound 18 times and transported weapons eight times.
The research indicated 17 incidents in which the pillions on boda bodas were raped by the riders, 24 riders were involved in drug trafficking, 16 in corruption and bribery, 11 in incitement and political interference, 27 were involved in defilement, 12 in trafficking illegal goods and there were 16 cases of harassment of police.
The research established 88 per cent said the operators commit crime in their locality.
There were 3,947 cases of theft of motorcycles, 3,889 cases of robbery with violence, 2,858 murders, 2,248 general stealing, 1,337 motorists causing death of riders by dangerous driving, 1,320 assault cases against the riders, 1,277 kidnappings, 980 cases of mob justice, 773 fraud and forgery, 734cases of fighting, 325 handling stolen property, 323 indecent assaults and 282 cases of malicious damage to property.
Some 254 cases of burglary were reported, 97 rape, 47 sodomy cases, 35 bribery and 13 intimidation and harassment by the security agencies.
The main causes of boda boda-related crimes include unemployment and idleness, poverty, drug and substance abuse, non regulation of the sector, greed and desire for quick money and weak law enforcement.
Others include peer pressure, illiteracy, criminal minds and tendencies, insecurity, poor infrastructure, high cost of living, corruption, ease of access to firearms through porous Kenyan border, drought and hunger, uncoordinated bodaboda Saccos, political incitement, non sharing of information with security agencies and tribalism.
The victims of the crimes committed by the riders include the riders employed as casuals, riders who have hired the motorcycles, pillions, the public, owners of the motorcycles, traffic police officers, government officials, matatu drivers, revenue officials and politicians.
The study found crimes are likely to be committed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The fourth week of the month and mid-month are high crime periods.
Public holidays, December, April, August and January are the most dangerous times.
The report recommends the establishment of a database of all the operators in Kenya through mandatory registration, refresher training and testing and making the industry a formal sector.
It further wants the government to subsidise the cost of riders' training and establish specific training schools. It calls for implementation of the NTSA regulations issued in 2014, sensitising operators, addressing unemployment nd poverty and gathering more police intelligence to manage the industry.
The report also recommends that NTSA cracks down on violators, formulates by-laws to regulate county operations.
It wants dealers to sell proper motorcycles with standard safety gear. Owneers must take insurance cover for riders, Saccos must register members, riders and passengers must wear safety gear.
(Edited by V. Graham)