Govt's Punitive Tactic Against Boda Boda Thieves

  • Boda Boda operators could be finding themselves in a sticky spot following proposed regulations that the government seeks to implement in the industry.

    To achieve the desired changes the government wants to extend the mandate of the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to conclusively cover the motorbike sector.

    The recommended changes are informed by a report from the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) that was authored in 2018 and currently in review in Parliament.

    A boda boda rider pictured without the recommended helmet and reflector jacket in Nairobi.

    The report seen by, details the requirements that will bind the boda boda sector if the proposed changes are adopted in Parliament.

    Some of these are valid rider's licenses, certificate of good conduct, a helmet and reflector jacket as well as a proposal that riders should go through formal motorcycle training.

    “The Kenyan government should make it mandatory before one is allowed to operate a boda boda motorcycle on Kenyan roads to meet certain minimum conditions. These should include: must have undergone formal motorcycle rider training; acquired riders/driving license; certificate of good conduct; helmet; reflector jackets.”

    The changes will majorly impact the NTSA Act and will touch on registering, regulating, monitoring and governing the industry, however, the report asserts that the problem is not a lack of laws but an issue with the enforcement of laws in place.

    “This study found weak law enforcement for the boda boda sub-sector as a contributing factor to crimes, accidents and impunity in Kenya. The boda boda industry operates on lawlessness, not because of the inadequate legal regime but more because of weaker enforcement of laws.”

    The NCRC visited 24 counties namely; Marsabit, Turkana, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Narok, Kajiado, Bungoma, Busia, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori, Nairobi, Kiambu, Tharaka Nithi, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu, Taita-Taveta, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera to collect data and compiled challenges facing the sub-sector.

    The report highlights a number of crimes that it lays at the feet of a lax regulatory framework for the motorcycle industry.

    Some of the crimes it sets out include death by dangerous riding, general theft, creating a disturbance, assault as well as robbery and robbery with violence.The industry has also been linked to drug trafficking, kidnapping, defilement and rape.

    "The most prevalent motorcycle related crimes committed by the boda boda riders were: causing death by dangerous riding (79.5%); general stealing (76.7%); breach of public order and creating disturbance (66.2%); assault 57.0%; robbery and robbery with violence (52.9%)..."

    Officers from the National Police Service Pictured.

    To curb the commission of these crimes, the report from NCRC recommends that the National Police Service should regulate the industry with a firmer hand.

    “The national police should undertake intelligence-led policing in gathering information and profiling criminal or rogue operators and upscale patrols and enforce public safety regulations like wearing helmets, reflector jackets and carrying only one passenger."