DISORDER

JAMES MUTHUI KOGI: Taming the boda boda tiger

It is now necessary to employ information technology in this sector.

In Summary

• Today, woe unto you motorist if you hit or are hit by one of these riders. They will gang up on you, extort and rob you, beat you up and even burn your vehicle.

• Retired Chief of the General Staff of the Kenya Defence Forces Julius Karangi encountered these gangs.

Boda boda operators
BODA BODAS: Boda boda operators
Image: FILE

A mindset shift is required when it comes to our important boda boda sector. This sector represents the motorcycle industry that is operated for PSV purposes across the country and which employs close to a million Kenyans.

The sector is also responsible for a lot of the courier services and, together with the Toyota Probox car, have largely replaced the half tonne pickup from the roads. Boda bodas came about either by fluke or by design during the era of the Narc government under President Mwai Kibaki and his then Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi. The sector is today a mammoth employer of our youth and with the impending general election in one year’s time, many a politician will be dangling carrots to them.

It is an untamed tiger where law and order needs to be restored. At the initial stages nearly 15 years ago, it was the motorists who would harass the riders by pushing them off the road largely due to entitlement. This led to the riders ganging up to help their colleagues, a culture that stuck and ran amok. 

Today, woe unto you motorist if you hit or are hit by one of these riders. They will gang up on you, extort and rob you, beat you up and even burn your vehicle. Retired Chief of the General Staff of the Kenya Defence Forces Julius Karangi encountered these gangs. Basically this is nothing but robbery with violence, a criminal offence that carries capital punishment repercussions.

But the boda boda sector continues to thrive in this disorder mainly due to the difficulty in identification of the motorcycle and the rider. It is a well-known fact that over 1,000 motorcyclists and their pillion passengers lose their lives every year on Kenyan roads. Indeed whole wards in all major hospitals have over the years infamously been set up for boda boda road accident victims and untold suffering has been afflicted to many an innocent citizen.

To address ease of identification and therefore ease of punishment, it is now necessary to employ information technology in this sector.  Using artificial intelligence capabilities, it should be possible to affix onto every motorcycle chassis an irremovable transponder that is readable from remote sensors both by mobile policemen and by street-located sensors.

This way, it will be possible within minutes to locate every boda boda involved in a crime scene or involved in a traffic offence in a similar manner as happens with mobile phone locators. This transponder will give details of ownership and address of the culprit and in this way tame the rogue nature of their trade.

It is also high time the National Police Service puts in place a special unit dealing with this boda boda sector, especially since it involves a population of over a million Kenyans. 

Why have an anti-stock theft unit that addresses a few cattle rustlers and not have a boda boda unit?