Police embrace technology to help tame rogue boda boda riders

Kapsoya Police station OCS Thomas Thimbara, explains how QR scanner is used to track rogue boda boda op[erators on April 6, 2023. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Police in Kapsoya, Uasin Gishu County, have embraced technology to combat insecurity in the area.

Kapsoya's Officer Commanding Station (OCS), Thomas Thimbara, has created a website called ugboda.co.ke, which enables residents to verify the authenticity of boda boda riders.

This innovative platform allows passengers to enter the motorcycle's registration number, which then displays the rider's designated stage, name, phone number, photo, and other identifying information.

To date, the platform has registered 673 boda boda riders operating across 103 stages in Kapsoya. Unregistered riders are prohibited from operating in the area.

Mr Thimbara, 40, has served at the Kapsoya Police Station for the past two years and believes the platform has effectively contained crime.

"We have witnessed boda boda-related crimes across the country, which have over the years proved to be difficult to curb. However, this innovation that we began using two years ago has become a game-changer because residents have embraced it for their own safety,” he said.

According to Thimbara, motorcycles are also equipped with QR codes that can be scanned to reveal rider details.

Officers at the station have educated residents about using only motorcycles with QR codes and full registration on the digital platform.

“There were many cases of muggings, theft and robbery with violence in this region especially along Munyaka and Kapsoya centres, which were also associated with transportation of drugs given their populations. Now, we have seen a great improvement with reduction in the number of cases reported here,” said Thimbara.

The OCS noted that this initiative has also fostered a positive relationship between boda boda riders and officers.

Thimbara explained that they simply collected rider details and photos and uploaded them to the digital platform, which allows for easy interaction and identification based on each rider's area of operation.

Thanks to the platform, he said, the police have arrested five boda boda operators after complainants successfully identified their motorcycle registration numbers.

Thimbara also revealed that 123 motorcycles have been confiscated in relation to a series of criminal activities in the area.

"There was a case where a student from a nearby institution was raped by a boda boda rider. She reported the matter to us and we were able to arrest the culprit and arraign him based on the details she had about the rider. The case is currently ongoing at the Eldoret law court,” the OCS said, adding that the platform has streamlined police operations thus ensuring justice is served.

According to Thimbara, this technology could be implemented anywhere in the country where boda boda riders operate.

Samuel Mugi, the chairperson of the boda boda association in Kapsoya, said that officers helped them understand the benefits of registering members on the platform.

"As a result, public confidence in boda boda operators has increased. We have loyal customers who trust us, and business people send us on errands to ferry their goods. Besides, all members of our sacco are well known to the residents," said Mr Mugi.

The riders said that in cases of accidents, it is easier for police officers to scan their QR codes, identify whoever is involved and help him seek medical help.

King’ori Mwangi said they were happy with the development because it has helped address cases of insecurity.

“We are now living in a peaceful environment thanks to this innovative idea by our OCS,” said Mr Mwangi.

Ainabkoi deputy sub-County Police Commander Alois Muthoka said the use of technology in law enforcement duties has enhanced intelligence gathering and operational capabilities.

"There are plans to have the technology applied in other areas within Ainabkoi sub-County," he said.