How COVID-19 has impacted the life of a boda boda operator
By Daniel Many | April 13th 2020
number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, many ordinary Kenyans are
struggling to adjust to the new life of washing hands, wearing masks, staying
indoors, and avoiding crowded places. However, life must continue, and many are
trying hard to make some income and put food on the table. I caught up with a
Boda Boda operator, and this is how life has changed for him and those in the
Boda Boda industry.
your official name?
nickname/stage-name/ pen-name, if you have any?
3. What do
you do for a living?
I am a Boda
were you and what were you doing when you first heard the news of Kenya
announcing the first Case of COVID-19?
parking in my designated stage in Njugu-ini, Athi River, waiting for customers
when I heard that news on the radio.
are you presently?
6. Up until
now, how has the pandemic affected your lifestyle and your work?
pandemic has affected me in many ways. First, there are few customers now. Most
are preferring to stay indoors as directed by the GOK. Also, they fear
spending. I guess they're saving money in anticipation of a possible lockdown.
that, and coupled by the GOK directive that we should only carry one passenger,
my earnings have reduced by more than a half. Before this pandemic, I used to
earn around Kshs 1,500 in a day. Now I can barely make Kshs 500.
I used to
make numerous trips carrying those working in EPZ, Portland Cement, Graylands,
and many other companies around, but now many of these companies are closed.
There are no pupils to carry because schools are also closed. It takes long
before I get a customer.
of curfew has reduced the number of hours I work, from 13 hours to only 10
have a lot of anxiety and fear whenever I carry passengers who are not wearing
masks. I fear I might get the disease and pass it on to my family.
7. Are you
satisfied with what the GOK is doing to contain the situation? If No, what
workable solutions would you suggest for GOK?
have done a pretty good job. I only wish they could have stopped international
passenger flights earlier.
don't understand how a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is
admitted in a hospital can escape. I heard that a patient escaped from Mbagathi
hospital. If it is true, then I blame the GOK. Yaani, how lazy can they be to
allow such a risky thing to happen?
lessons have you learnt from the pandemic so far?
learned that the GOK is also caring. They have been cautioning citizens not to
be in crowded places. They have been telling us to wash our hands and stay at
home. Also, they said they would provide for us free masks. Though I haven't
received any mask, I believe they will give out the masks. I never knew our
government could do such things. It is long since we felt the government's
9. If you
survive this pandemic, what would you do differently?
survive this disease, I will change jobs. Yes, I will not be a Boda Boda
operator anymore. It is too risky. Apart from numerous accidents, we, Boda Boda
guys, are more exposed to respiratory diseases. In a place like Athi River, we
breathe in a lot of dust, which affects our respiratory organs. And now this
coronavirus. We are more exposed to it than any other person. I just don't want
to risk my life that way.
10. How is
your daily routine like?
I wake up
at 6 am. Dress and hit the road by 6.20 am.
stay in the field until 10 am when I go back to the house for breakfast. After
20 minutes of breakfast break, I hit the road again till 1 pm.
lunch, I rest a bit for 30 minutes. I hit the road again from 1.30 pm until
around 6.50 pm when I close work and head straight home just before the 7 pm
the same routine. I haven't thought of staying at home, because I know it will
not be easy when money is not there. Just two days ago, my landlord came to ask
for rent, and I paid in full. I thought he would be a little more sympathetic
to the situation right now but, wapi? So lazima nitoke nje ntafute ya chakula.
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