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Riders cry foul as police hold onto motorbikes

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By Judith Gicobi

The fate of motorcycles seized by police in a crackdown on renegade Boda-boda operators last week has caused some confusion.

Hundreds of motorcycles remain parked in police yards in various police stations across the country.

Despite the government’s decision to halt the crackdown, police insist that the owners present the required documentation and pay fines before being released.

Driving licenses, insurance policies, log books, and reflector jackets are among the documentation that operators whose motorcycles have been detained are required to present.

According to some operators, they are also advised that they must pay towing fees.

Abdi Ahmed, a Boda-boda operator in Mombasa County’s Likoni region, said some of his counterparts had not yet retrieved their motorcycles from the police stations.

“Some of my friends whose motorbikes were impounded have not gone to the police station to collect their bikes in fear of being told to fulfill some conditions,” said Salim.

Some of the riders have already been charged and fined Sh35, 000. However, before they can get their bikes back, the authorities have ordered them to meet extra requirements.

Riders further report that in order to get their motorcycles released, they must pay bribes ranging from Sh10,000 to Sh20,000 at most police stations.

Senior police officers in counties, on the other hand, have disputed the allegations, claiming that they have been obeying their superiors’ orders from Nairobi.

Boda-boda operators in Kambu County’s Gatundu North constituency are simply required to have the ownership documentation of the seized motorcycles in order to have them released, according to police.

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“Enforcement of compliance of traffic law by public transport motorcycles, aka Boda-boda, crackdown has been stopped. This is to give room to the government to reorganize the sector through a multi-sectoral committee working on a framework of implementation,” the Kenya Police Service said in a statement.

The restriction on Boda-bodas in the Nairobi Central Business District, however, will continue being in effect, according to the statement.

In addition to the documentation, Nairobi County traffic commandant Joshua Omukata required the operators to produce proof of membership in a Sacco or an organisation.

“We are trying to encourage them to be members of associations or Saccos for easier identification. As a government we are determined to make Boda-boda operators respect all the traffic laws and adhere to them in their operations,”  Omukata, went on to say.

A day after a woman was assaulted by a group of Boda-boda riders, the government launched a Boda-boda crackdown, with the majority of the riders being charged and fined.

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