Agony of youth who lose boda boda bikes to cunning lenders

A bodaboda rider being assisted to his feet after he was involved in an accident in Nakuru city, May 5, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The business, he says, is competitive and too saturated, and the daily proceeds cannot service weekly instalments.

Hundreds of young people have fallen victim to such lenders, who now deal in motorcycles fitted with tracking devices.

The youth are counting losses following the decision by such firms to indiscriminately impound the motorcycles, including those belonging to diligent owners with only 10 per cent outstanding loans.

The lenders have opened outlets in prime market towns such as Eldoret, Nandi Hills and Kapsabet, where they can easily access boda boda industry customers.

In Nandi County, the youth found it convenient to go for the Sh150,000 motorbikes on hire purchase to start a business

Mr Jonathan Chepkwony, a resident of Chesumei in Nandi, said he took his small savings to one of the lenders in Kapsabet, where he made a down payment to acquire a bike.

"Even before paying my first instalment in the first week, I was involved in an accident. The cost of repairing it was about Sh10,000, forcing me to ground it for two weeks while seeking funds for repairs," he said.

Chepkwony said when he was told police officers and sales agents were trailing him, he took off. The agents went to his home and took the grounded motorbike.

"There is nothing I gained from that motorbike at all; I lost Sh20,000 in less than one month. The terms and conditions are so tough and exploitative since the companies cannot be lenient with their clients in case of any eventuality," said Mr Chepkwony.

According to reports from boda boda saccos in Kapsabet and its environs, 15-20 motorbikes are impounded on a weekly basis for default.

Police officers impound a boda boda abandoned at a crime scene in Nairobi West. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

In Kapsabet town, there are three motorbike lenders which have established outlets.

They offer affordable lending services and the aspiring boda boda businessman is parting with between Sh15,000 and Sh20,000 down payment.

And depending on the motorcycle capacity and payment duration, hire purchase instalments can range between Sh2,500 and Sh3,500 weekly.

Julius Birgen, a bodaboda leader in Kapsabet, claimed motorbike lenders were exploitative and had stringent hire purchase terms not friendly to bodaboda businessmen.

He claimed that lenders doubled the original market price of a motorbike and makes over 100 per cent profit.

Aaron Kipkorir, a dealer, says they impound close to 10 motorcycles per week.

"Like any other business, we have challenges where the clients fail to pay their weekly installments. Once impounded, the motorcycles are held for about a week before they are resold to recover the lenders' money.