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Boda boda riders wrong to take the law into their own hands

By Editorial | March 14th 2021

The boda boda sector has grown in leaps and bounds in just a few years. This is because of their ability to reach remote and sometimes areas impossible to access using a matatu or private car. This would also explain the hundreds of thousands of Kenyan youth eking out a living from ferrying passengers on the two-wheelers. The sector has created job opportunities and eased the rising unemployment rate in the country.

However, the boda boda riders, as has been said numerous times before, have become unruly and a law unto themselves. The impunity among the motorcyclists has reached alarming levels and something must be done urgently. Left the way they are operating now, the boda boda riders will become a danger to society and themselves too. The sector could morph into a monster that will turn against the same society it is meant to serve.

On Thursday evening, hundreds of boda boda riders stormed Karatina sub-County Hospital, dragged two suspects and lynched them as the police, guards, patients and wananchi watched helplessly. Apparently, the two suspects were accused of being part of a gang that had been terrorising boda boda riders.

The riders were on a revenge mission after six of their colleagues were killed by the gang, which also steals motorcycles. While this should be a police matter, where investigations, arrests and prosecutions should follow, the boda boda riders decided to take the law into their own hands and be the police, judge and executor. This is not how a civilised society operates. This is the law of the jungle, which could become uncontrollable. Such incidences gnaw at the confidence ordinary people have in the police, judiciary and institutions of governance.

That said, the government has a duty to instill order in the boda boda sector. This can be done through formation of saccos, which then come up with rules which every rider must adhere to. The boda boda riders should also follow all traffic rules just like other motorists. It is unfortunate that the riders move in any direction of the roads, posing a risk to themselves and other road users. It should not be difficult for the traffic police and county askaris to enforce the law among the riders.

Still, political goodwill is needed in reining in rogue boda boda riders. In the past, politicians have identified themselves with the riders, especially when trying to woo voters. The politicians must be willing to have order restored in the sector.  

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