Boda Boda operators in Kajiado County have continued to defy the Government’s directive to wear masks and carry only one passenger to curb the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid -19).
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe directed the riders to adhere to the measures to prevent the spread of the virus as the riders come into contact with many people in the course of their work.
They were also directed to wear gloves and provide sanitisers for their customers to reduce the spread of the highly contagious virus which has already claimed three lives in the country and 110 others confirmed positive.
A spot check by KNA in various towns including Kajiado, Isinya, Kitengela, Il BIssil, Namanga, Ongata Rongai, Kiserian and Ngong revealed that it was business as usual for the riders with only a handful of them adhering to the call.
Hassan Omari a boda boda operator at Namanga town said he does not have money to buy the masks as the money he makes per day is barely enough to fuel his motorbike and buy food.
He added that since the curfew was effected business has gone down and he cannot afford to buy sanitisers and masks for his customers.
“We don’t have money to purchase the masks as business has gone down due to the curfew. Most of our customers are now walking from home and what we make can only help meet our basic needs,“ said Omari.
Omari called on the Government to distribute to them hand sanitisers and masks to enable them adhere to safety measures directed by the Health CS Mutahi Kagwe as their nature of work puts them at high risk of contracting Coronavirus.
Eric Ouma, 26, a rider at the same town, reiterated Omari’s remarks adding that the Government should ensure that they issue the masks and sanitisers to them for free since it was not their fault that the disease is in Kenya.
“It is absurd that the government did not close down the points of entries into this country earlier and that is why we have these problems therefore it is upon the government to protect us. After all they have received funds from World Health Organisation to combat this virus,” he said.
Ouma added that the prices of sanitisers had skyrocketed and they were out of stock in many supermarkets thus it was now upon the Government to provide them for all boda boda riders.
Charles Lesinko, a boda boda operator at Isinya town, called on the Government to extent the curfew to at least 9pm to enable them make some more money as they mostly get a lot of customers in the evening during ‘rush hour’.
“We have children at home who are consuming a lot every day and the travels have reduced nowadays I no longer have the morning squads to take children to schools as well as transporting goats to the markets since the ban of all open air market was installed therefore the government should extend the curfew hours at least up to 9 pm so that we can earn something and pay our bills,” Charled Lesinko said.
However according to Kajiado Central Boda Boda Chairman Fredrick Riisa, most of his members are finding it difficult to provide a mask for everybody because of the current difficult economic situation.
Riisa noted that although the riders were willing to comply with the directives, most of them cannot afford to purchase the masks and sanitisers as their business had gone down.
“Since, the outbreak of this disease, our business has been greatly affected. Most of the riders barely make enough money to meet their basic needs.
The Government should intervene and lower the price of fuel to enable us afford to buy the masks, “said the chairman.
Riisa also called for frequent mass screening among members of the public to ensure that the citizens are safe and can access medication early.
“The best way of controlling the spread of this virus is by conducting random mass screenings of the public so that if one is sick they are isolated immediately to avoid passing it on to others,” Riisa advised.
By Rop Janet and Albert Lemomo