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The ticking time bomb that is the boda boda sector

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That on the day President Kenyatta was dangling financial goodies to boda bodas in Nairobi, 300 of their counterparts abducted a patient from a hospital in Kirinyaga and lynched him is one of the paradoxes facing Kenya.

On one hand is a grassroots transport industry whose influence can no longer be ignored by politicians.

The flipside is a sector that is spinning out of control so fast that police have run out of options on how to rein it in.

The Kirinyaga tragedy started in Nyangati village on Tuesday night when boda bodas accosted a man they suspected to be behind the theft of five motorcycles. He had reportedly confessed to his crimes and was being beaten when police arrived.

“Officers on the Mwea-Embu road rescued him from the mob,” Nyangati chief Immaculate Wanjiru said.

He was taken to Kimbimbi Hospital and was to appear in court on Monday.

Not happy with the manner the issue was being handled, the riders stormed the hospital.

Patients and staff took cover as men in jackets and helmets moved from room to room. They frogmarched the injured man for 30 kilometres before killing him.

Of note is not that the riders stopped their work to deal with a crime they thought had been committed against them.

It was their breaking of the law – the result of their numbers, unity, ease of movement and organisation in broad daylight – and the helplessness of police.

Zero-rated in 2008 by Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, motorcycle transport has come a long way.

Able to reach even the most remote parts of the country while at the same time weave through traffic in big towns, boda boda public transport has, in just a decade, evolved to a potent force.

Sh357 billion

So big is the industry that the endorsement of boda bodas by the President was the mark of approval for a sector that has come of age.

In Mr Kenyatta’s words, the sector “is one of the biggest drivers of the country’s economy, with operators generating up Sh980 million a day”.

“With a rider’s average daily earning of Sh700, the sector’s annual income is estimated at Sh357 billion,” Mr Kenyatta said.

According to the President, the industry supports 5.2 million Kenyans, directly or indirectly, accounting for 11 per cent of the population.

Yet in the midst of this is a growing list of vices associated with boda bodas, with the sector inching towards vigilantism.

The riders are involved in drug, arms and human trafficking, robbery with violence, murder and many other offences.

Dangerous riding

According to the National Crime Research Centre, the most prevalent boda boda offences are causing death by dangerous riding at 79 per cent, stealing (76 per cent), breach of public order and creating disturbance (66 per cent), robbery with violence (52 per cent) and possession dangerous drugs (49 per cent).

Other crimes committed by boda bodas are drug trafficking (42 per cent), murder (38 per cent), kidnapping (26 per cent), defilement (17 per cent), cross border smuggling of goods (15 per cent) and handling stolen property at 12 per cent.

They jump traffic lights, ignore orders from police, ride on pedestrian walkways and change lanes as they wish. If you are unlucky to get involved in an accident with one, you will pay, whether you are on the wrong or right.

“Cases of motorists being harassed by boda bodas after an accident with one of them have become so common that citizens have accepted it is a way of life,” Motorists Association of Kenya chairman Peter Murima said.

“Often, the drivers are made to pay for damages to the boda bodas, even when they are not at fault, unless police arrive on the scene quickly.”

Thika Road users braved a jam when a matatu driver hit a boda boda that had suddenly joined his lane without warning near Muthaiga on Saturday night.

More than 100 boda bodas made it to the scene in minutes. Suddenly, the matatu driver was on the wrong.

Chaos

He had to plead with the rowdy group not to set his vehicle on fire. Kenya National Highways Authority officers calmed the situation that was degenerating into chaos.

Lands Cabinet Secretary Faridah Karoney’s father died when he was hit by a boda boda on the Eldoret-Kabsabet road two weeks ago.

While at the burial of a man who had also been killed by a boda boda in Kirinyaga two weeks ago, retired Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi told mourners that he almost died at the hands of a riders’ mob. The general was driving when his car was hit from behind by a motorcycle.

Tens of them were at the scene in seconds, baying for his blood. The boda bodas, however, scattered upon realising who he was.

“They left when I looked at them and lowered my mask. Had it been one of you, you would have been killed,” he told mourners on Saturday.

It has become common for devolved governments to issue directives curtailing the operations of boda bodas in towns.

Such orders fall on deaf ears or are implemented for a short time before the riders return.

It is easy to see why it is difficult to rein in boda bodas. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics says the country imported more than 961,000 motorcycles in the last five years.

Considering that it is more than a decade since mass importation began, Kenya could be having more than two million motorcycles.

The ripple effect is the creation of “armies” of young men organised through informal associations – complete with a chain of command for easy mobilization – that thrive on lawlessness. This has become the most attractive segment of society for politicians.

As the 2022 General Election approaches, no politician can ignore the lure of a big number of organised young men with motorcycles that can move around, attract crowds through their noise and cause chaos.

The National Crime Research Centre says 38 per cent of boda bodas are aged between 22 and 26, some 30 per cent are in 18-25 age bracket while 20 per cent are aged 34-41.

Five million people

“Boda bodas are an excellent political propagating tool. If there are a million riders, for example, and each carries five passengers a day, that is five million people who may get your message,” political analyst Herman Manyora said.

“Unfortunately, they can easily morph into vigilante groups that can be used to terrorise opponents or cause violence. That is the danger politicians courting boda bodas.”

Initially frowned on when Deputy President William Ruto co-opted boda bodas as an important constituency of his “Hustler nation” as a tool to fight the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which he labelled an elitist document meant to serve the needs of dynasties, the motorcycle taxis are now at the centre of the fight for country’s political soul.

While Dr Ruto has been reaching out to boda bodas through fundraisers and dishing out money meant to help them buy more motorcycles, President Kenyatta has come with a grand investment scheme supported by corporate guarantors and capital markets.

Whether the President’s move will take away a chunk of the DP’s supporters remains to be seen.

Just yesterday, Dr Ruto repeated what he has been saying all along – that his “hustlers” will form the government in 2022.

“If you are not telling us how you are going to improve the lives of mama mboga and boda bodas. We will stop that reggae of yours,” he said.

by nation.africa


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Lifestyle

Ruth Matete seeks help as she marks first wedding anniversary minus hubby

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Ms Ruth Matete and her husband MrJohn Apewajoye
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Gospel singer Ruth Matete penned a moving message to her newborn daughter as she marked her first wedding anniversary but without her husband Beloved John Apewajoye who died this year.

 The Tusker Project Fame 5 winner welcomed her bundle of joy in October, seven months after the tragic death of her husband.

In a lengthy Instagram post, in which she also attached a photo of her daughter, Reyna Toluwa’s feet, Matete prayed that her daughter would grow up to serve the Lord.

“Reyna Toluwa my princess. My love. Am not a poet, but the words I write here, are from my heart. I pray for you on this special day. That you will grow to serve the Lord. You will spread the good news of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” Matete wrote.

She also declared that Reyna’s feet will carry the good news.

“As the Bible says; ‘And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?’ As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ I declare today, that your feet are beautiful. Not just because they look like your father’s, but also because they will bring good news as the word of God declares,” she added.

 Matete remembered the vows she made on her wedding day, ‘till death do us part’ but she emotionally noted that death took her beloved husband earlier than expected.

“A day like this a year ago, your late father and I walked down the isle. Yes, we didPromised to be together till death do us part. But death came earlier than we expected.  I miss him so much. But am blessed to have you as a gift that he left me with. I don’t even understand how I’ve come this far. It can only be God,” she posted.

Even though it was one of those difficulty days in her life, Matete promised her daughter she would be fine eventually.

“Today may not be such an easy day for mummy. But I promise you, I’ll be fine. I have seen God to be the father to the fatherless and husband to the widow as He has promised in His word. Today won’t be an exception. I know He will help us even today,”  Matete said in the post.

 She ended her emotional message by asking for monetary support as she could not yet manage to resume work after a troublesome pregnancy.

“Friends, our till number remains the same, incase you wish to support us.5495849. Whatever you can, will go a mighty long way as am still not able to work. God bless you friends and please keep us in your prayers,” she added.

By NN


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Lifestyle

World’s most-traveled man Fred Finn says Kenya is the safest place to visit during the pandemic

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Diani beach in Kwale County has played host to the world’s most traveled man, Fred Finn.

Finn has traveled to more than 150 countries at the age of 75 and holds the current Guinness Book World Records.

Finn, who is in the country until Monday, November 30 said Kenya is safe for holiday destinations.

He however noted that his visit at the moment is not for leisure, but to send a message that the country is safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says he has observed that Kenyans are following the protocols and guidelines than any other country he has traveled to during the pandemic.

“I did not come here on holiday, that is why my wife is not with me. I came because whenever Kenya has a little crisis I come and say Kenya is safe” he said

He said, during a pandemic, Kenya is the safest place to go on holiday.

Finn is scheduled to have his vaccine in December.

Tourism players say Finn’s visit to Kenya gives confidence to the international market that the country is an ideal destination.

“When you get an endorsement from the eyes of a traveler that is likely to carry the right persuasion to the potential travelers” said Kioko Musyoki, Leopard Beach General Manager.


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Entertainment

‘I regret…’ Anne Kiguta opens up about posting her daughter on social media

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TV news anchor Anne Kiguta has announced that she would like to share with her fans more about her life.

However, she draws a line on exposing her children to the limelight.

Anne has three children, one from her previous marriage and fraternal twins with Jomo Gecaga.

Responding to a fan who asked her about her babies, Anne posted a photo of her and her twins but blocked out the faces.

In her response she explained,

“Gosh, so many of you have said this… was the number one response. Well, I will have to let you down on that my loves.”

She added,

“I’m rather traditional (believe it or not) so I’m vehemently against it. My babies are are all still too young, including the eldest, to be on social media.”

Anne continued,

“In fact I really regret having posted my eldest at all. Mummy already has a pretty public life. They deserve their privacy.”

But not to break her fans hearts, Anne promised,

“A reference every once in a while but nothing more than that for a long long time.  Hope  you understand.”

In another post she still emphasized,

“That is my son. Quite the charmer. If only I could tell you half of what they say! But all these are are to me sacred moments…really can’t share much more.”

Not to be daunted though, Anne promised to talk about other aspects of her life.

Here are the various topics she is open to talking about.

By Mpasho.co.ke


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