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Boda boda: Rwanda’s successful approach

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By Judith Gicobi

Motorbikes, also known as Boda Boda in East Africa, have created a nightmare for authorities and civilians.

They’ve become associated with crime and vigilantism, as well as a law unto themselves. But how did it get here in the first place? Is it possible to save it?

Each Boda Boda rider (abamotari) and passenger helmet must be branded with a unique identification number, which must also be written on the driver’s jacket and bike in Rwanda’s motorcycling industry. Motorcycles (locally known as moto moto) are also mandated by law to have a GPS location installed for simple traceability in the event of a criminal act.

The sector is administered by over 18 organized cooperatives that work hand in hand with traffic cops to enforce traffic laws. Which collaborate with traffic cops to impose discipline and the legislation. Without the presence of a traffic cop, the cooperative ensures that the riders follow the traffic signs faithfully.

In contrast to Kenya, where motorbikes can carry up to five passengers, cyclists are prohibited by law from carrying more than one pillion. The requiem for female passengers to sit astride like males is another characteristic that jumps out in Kigali. They are also not permitted to ride with their children on motorcycles for safety concerns.

Unlike Nairobi, Kampala, or even Dar es Salaam, where the sector has long gone rogue, the helmet law is carefully enforced in Kigali, with both the rider and passenger wearing helmets.

Riders in Kigali have allocated parking places where they wait for passengers.

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Riders are not permitted to scour the town for passengers. Passengers, on the other hand, must walk to the designated stages for their services.

Kigali was counting on the cashless program to enhance urban mobility because it not only eliminates fare wrangling between riders and passengers, but it also offers an opportunity to formalize a sector that draws over 30,000 operators in the capital Kigali and surrounding areas.

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