State Department of Tourism Principal Secretary Zeinab Hussein has launched the registration and issuance of Smart Driving Licenses (SDL) to qualified riders in Kilifi County at the Huduma Centre, to streamline the bodaboda sector and advance road safety.
Addressing the riders, Ms Hussein asked them to take advantage of the 60 days’ timeline by registering in large numbers as stipulated by the government.
She noted that the riders’ industry plays an important role not only in Kilifi County but the whole country and hence the call for regulation.
“It’s an important sector since it employs more than 2.4 million with more than 10,000 youth coming from Kilifi County alone. It aids in transport both in short and long distances,” Hussein acknowledged.
She noted that the motorcycle business has been unregulated for a long time, leading to infiltration by criminals who disguise themselves as riders to commit heinous acts.
“Due to the fast growth of the sector, it has become easy for gangs to infiltrate the sector. We are calling upon the riders to register so that we can weed out the bad elements and in an event of an incident, we can be able to track the perpetrators with ease,” she added.
The PS noted that lack of driving licenses by bodaboda riders poses a risk to both the riders and the passengers in the event of an accident.
She expressed her worries that in such occurrences, riders and pillions may end up incurring huge hospital bills which may cause their families to languish in poverty in the long run.
Hussein added that the regulation was necessary to ensure bodabodas operate within some laid down standard operating procedures. “To ensure steady growth of the sector, it’s important to regulate it by working within the laid guidelines by government. This will help in safety of all road users,” she emphasized.
The government has already rolled out the registration of bodabodas all over the country.
This comes after the Forest Road incident in Nairobi a month ago, where bodaboda riders were captured harassing a female motorist after an accident.
Hussein explained that the primary objective of regulating the sector was to promote road safety and security of the riders and users. She said the government intends to issue SDL to all registered motorists after successful registration.
In addition, the first 200, 000 registered riders will benefit from free NHIF cover for the next 12 months.
To register, motorcyclists are required to present themselves in-person and have an original national Identity Card and a copy of the KRA pin and an active registered sim card.
Kilifi County Commissioner Kutswa Olaka, noted that the country lost 1,722 people through bodaboda accidents in a period of one year which was a loss to the country in the concern of productivity.
“Last year we lost a total of 1,722 people through bodaboda accidents in Kenya, which is a worrying number compared to Nordic countries which may lose just one rider in five years, Kutswa added.
He asked the motorcyclists to exercise calmness in an event of an accident to ensure they do not tamper with the evidence which may be crucial to help in a court of law.
“In an event of an accident, the vehicle owner may be in the wrong. Destroying the vehicle or attacking the driver may tamper with the evidence making it hard for the driver to be prosecuted,” Kutswa added.
He asked the bodaboda riders not to be misused by politicians during the campaign period as they are likely to be influenced to destroy property leading to suffering later.
Kilifi county bodaboda chairman Hamisi Katambo, noted that more than 85 percent of the riders did not have licenses in the past and that due to distance, most of them may not be registered within the projected timeline.
“Distance is really a challenge since we only have one Huduma Centre serving the entire county. Some in the far ends are really having a challenge coming here due to distance and shortage of fuel being experienced in the country,” he said.
He asked for the devolvement of the exercise to the area chiefs due to the expansive Kilifi County which is currently having only one registration centre revealing that it was the reason why only 50 bodaboda riders presented themselves for the registration exercise.
By Treeza Auma and Harrison Yeri