The boda boda sector has had a positive impact on the country’s economy due to the sheer numbers of motorcycles in the country.
Besides reducing unemployment, the sector has made life easier for many businesspeople, enabling them cart both raw materials and finished products with ease, opening up markets.
The sector provides one million direct jobs for riders earning about Sh1 billion daily, according to a new study, underlining the importance the motorcycle business to Kenya’s economy amid a recent countrywide crackdown on the operators over indiscipline.
According to the study by listed firm Car & General (C&G), the sector supports six million livelihoods indirectly, about 10 per cent of the country’s population.
C&G estimates that each rider makes an average of Sh1,000 daily from an average of 15 rides, this translating to a daily income of Sh1 billion or Sh365 billion annually for the one million of them.
This is equivalent to 3.4 per cent of GDP and almost matches the output of Kenya’s education sector, whose contribution to GDP stands at 3.8 per cent.
However, lack of a regulatory framework in the sector has seen the upsurge of crime, mob assault on other road users and disregard for traffic rules.
A viral video in which a mob of riders sexually assaulted a female motorist recently amplified the rot in the sector.
This made President Kenyatta order a nationwide crackdown on the entire sector in a bid to instill sanity.
The sector has operated without decorum and decency for a long time. The riders are not trained on road safety – while most of them don’t even have a rider’s license and to make it worse they are a law unto themselves.
This has bred criminal gangs where impunity reigns supreme, especially on the road.
The chaotic situation has put drivers in danger: some have lost their lives along with their innocent passengers with thousands getting maimed.
In 2019, for instance, 1,421 boda boda riders and pillion passengers died, compared to 1,049 motor vehicle drivers and passengers.
Some boda boda riders have been accused of actively participating in or abetting crime.
Some have been accused of helping remove or conceal the bodies of those killed by criminals.
Generally, the entire transport sector in the country is extremely chaotic and requires serious policy and legal interventions to tame cartels and rogue operators.