The Wangari Maathai Road shocking incident that saw a female motorist being sexually assaulted by a gang of Bodaboda riders has just depicted how as a country we still far from eliminating violence against women and girls, this incident which happened on the eve of the International women’s day in the broad light of day just shows how much effort is still needed in this fight.
In fact what was more chilling is hearing the screams from the young lady who was on the wheels of her car, as she was partially undressed by the Bodaboda riders seemingly after the accident occurred. It was indeed a sad day for Kenya and a sad day for the many efforts Kenyan women have made to ensure they are not just viewed as sex objects.
Following this despicable incident, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered a crackdown on all Bodaboda riders across the nation in order to bring sanity in this ever growing sector.
“There should never be a repeat of what we saw for this is blight on the entire Kenyan society. I have ordered a crackdown on all bodaboda operators starting here in Nairobi and moving across the country,” The President said this while gracing the International Women’s day at the Kenya school of Government in Kabete.
“We shall continue to support but friends that is not a license for you and your motorbike to harass pedestrians by driving on pedestrian walkways and chasing them back off the roads, it is not a license that allows for a bodaboda to be used to do drive by shootings or to break vehicles windows and harass motorists along the road and most definitely it’s not a license for you to strip and remove dignity from our women,” he added.
Aware that the order will definitely attract sharp criticism especially from politicians bearing in mind this was an electioneering year, the President warned against politicization of the whole issue
“Because we are in the silly season of politics, there are some out there who will go out and start saying the government is harassing small business people .there is no government that has done what we have done to help these bodabodas in terms of reducing the price of these motorbikes and we have seen the number and how they have flourished across the country, that was not done because we wanted to kill their business,” he intimated.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga also weighed in on the matter warning against the blanket condemnation of the bodaboda operators.
“Let it not be taken that all bodaboda operators in the country were involved in the incident. When someone does a mistake let the person be arrested. When someone commits a crime he is the one on the wrong side of law, that is not to say that everyone in the bodaboda business is a criminal,” Odinga said.
This was also reiterated by his political rival and Deputy President William Ruto who asked the police to shun harassing bodaboda operators and instead go after few of them who were criminals.
He said that the sector was legal which was raking in billions of shillings to the economy.
“The bodaboda industry that brings in Sh. 1 billion shillings everyday and provides livelihoods for 1.4 million households should never be criminalized. We should get rid of a few criminals amongst them,” he said.
The bodaboda industry is like any other sector of cause it has its good side and the bad side to which we must all come together and address it. Unfortunately the bad side of the Bodaboda sector has gone on for too long in this country especially with regards to incidents involving motorists where bodaboda operators gang up on motorists whenever there is an accident involving bodabodas, this definitely should not be tolerated as this creates anarchy.
This operation that was launched by the government and later stopped is welcome because probably it will bring sanity in the industry, however it should now not be used as an opportunity to harass innocent bodaboda riders who are out there fending for their families. Those who are rogue and tainting this sector should be weeded out and please let’s not politicize this issue this is just not the time as this might Bolden the rogue bodaboda operators.
Let us not forget that this is not the first time the government has tried to reform this sector, in 2018 Interior CS Fred Matiangi together with his Transport counterpart James Macharia did announce a 13 member team to be able to address the bodaboda menace in the country. The team’s recommendations led by Julius M Mathenge have never been implemented up to now. Ironically last week after the Wangari Maathai incident the same Cabinet secretary announced that a special taskforce would again be formed to help streamline the bodaboda industry, while responding to the public’s cries, Matiangi said that he will ensure the sector is weeded out of the bad elements.
“Nothing short of a very ruthless and radical reorganization of the bodaboda sector is going to solve this menace,”Matiangi said.
According to the Motorcycle Assemblers Association of Kenya, the bodaboda industry generated 212 billion shillings in 2017. It even estimated that bodaboda’s collectively earn 980 million shillings daily. There are approximately 1.2 million bodabodas in the country and close to 80,000 bodabodas that are currently unregistered.
BY WEMA TOYWA #WEMA’STAKE