NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – Where will we get the money from?
It is a question many boda-boda operators are pondering over since the means for raising that extra coin is not guaranteed, as many towns led by Nairobi have barred them from operating within their respective Central Business Districts – where there is a flow of cash.
Anxiety has been replaced by confusion following the announcement of an intended move to amend insurance rules governing the industry by the government, so that they can all have a personal accident cover.
It is what Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said is meant to “to mitigate against these risks.”
He noted that “boda-boda transport has become an important sector in our economy, it is one of the largest employers of our youth and provides cheap and convenient transport for Kenyans. Despite the above benefits, Mr Speaker, this mode of transport has proven to be very risky to the riders, passengers and even pedestrians.”
A section of boda-boda operators who spoke to Capital News said they are willing to comply with the Government plans but decried lack of a conducive environment to operate from, so that they can raise enough money to have the cover.
The CS said the move is informed by the ever-rising boda-boda related accidents, which mostly affect the lower cadres of the society, but in a rejoinder, the operators who spoke to Capital FM News say they are victims of continued harassment by authorities.
“The government wants us to spend more money yet we do not even have an operating ground,” John Onyango said.
Another said, “We will still be harassed even after meeting all those requirements. That’s our biggest challenge.”
Ten other operators interviewed by Capital FM News shared their sentiments, with city askaris and police officers topping their list of worries – more than the proposed changes.
Currently, most operators are required to have either a third party or comprehensive insurance cover, meaning they will have to dig deeper into their pockets for them to remain in business.
Kevin Mubadi, the chairperson of Boda-Boda Safety Association of Kenya, however, in a statement said they will only support the Government proposal if they ensure claims are paid at least in four weeks’ time and the cost of premiums is reviewed downward.
“We will not support the idea because it will only impose more suffering to our already poor members and stretch them further on their little income. We wish to invite relevant government body to have a discussion with us and have a better way of achieving mutual benefit,” he said in a statement.
Some legislators have since termed the move as counterproductive saying it risks ‘killing’ the booming industry, which employs more than a million youths across the country.