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Like in Nakuru town, ‘boda boda’ stops can restore order on roads

By | May 27th 2010

By Beatrice Obwocha

With or without vehicles, people never get stranded any more. Not because they can walk or use air transport, they use boda bodas.

Bicycles and motorcycles as alternative means of transport are common in towns in Western Kenya and Rift Valley.

With boda bodas, there are no designated stops as passengers are dropped at their point of choice, even at the doorstep.

However, they have been accused of causing accidents, with cyclists disobeying traffic rules, leading to obstruction and congestion within Central Business Districts (CBD) of some towns.

They have become a nightmare to local authorities as they try to restore order in these towns. But the situation is different in Nakuru town.

Bicycle boda boda operators have been barred from entering the CBD. For the last two years, they have to contend with picking and dropping passengers along designated routes.

It is highly unlikely to find bicycles ferrying or waiting for passengers within the town as council askaris are always on the lookout arresting anyone who flouts the rule.

Mr Sheikh Abdulahi, Municipal Council of Nakuru Town Clerk says they introduced a by-law barring boda boda bicycles from the town.

Those who flouted the rule were arrested and charged.

"We only allow them to operate upto designated areas such as Oginga Odinga road and KFA round about," he said

He said Nakuru town is growing fast, with the population increasing tremendously especially after the post-election violence.

Business expansion

"New buildings have been constructed with more businesses opening. This has led to the increase in the number of personal vehicles, causing congestion," he said.

He said the move to bar boda bodas the CBD was aimed at decongesting the town.

"At first, it was not easy to keep the operators out of the town centre as they kept coming back, at times demonstrating against the move," he said. He said they had to station the council askaris in various points along the main streets to ensure the operators did not get into town.

That was two years ago and now, the operators stick to the designated area. The move has restored order in the town. According to Abdulahi, by the time they introduced the by-laws two years ago, there were very few bodaboda motorcycle operators.

"The number has since increased and they have become a menace leading to congestion," he said.

He said plans were underway to introduce laws that would target these operators to confine them to specific sections of the town.

The council’s treasurer John Gicaci said apart from by-laws helping to restore order, the operators pay a monthly fee to the council.

But bodaboda bicycle operators complain that the move to bar them from CBD has hurt their business.

"We asked the council to build sheds for us in three areas within the town centre but they are reluctant. We will pay when they allow us to operate within the CBD," said Samwel Etyang, Chairman of their organisation.

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