Police officers and motorcycle taxi (boda boda) operators on Tuesday temporarily buried their enmity and engaged in a joint clean-up exercise within Malindi Town.
The event was a rare spectacle in the tourism resort town as the two groups have for long been like fire and flax in their daily activities – the police while discharging its law enforcement duties and the boda boda operators while trying to eke a living without following the law.
The two hitherto antagonistic groups joined the Malindi Progressive Welfare Association during the monthly clean-up exercise to carry out Gabbage collection within the town as a way of reviving tourism by restoring the image of the Malindi Town.
Malindi Sub County has an estimated 50,000 boda boda operators, but statistics show that only about 1,000 have complied with traffic regulations, with the rest engaging in cat and mouse games with traffic officers.
Boda boda operators have not been taking part in the monthly exercise since it began last year and their joining the officers and other stakeholders signalled a mending of fences to the perennial hatred.
The Malindi Deputy Sub County Police Commander (DSCPC), Simon Muli and the Malindi Traffic Base Commander, George Naibei led the security officers in the clean-up exercise while the boda boda operators were led by the Kilifi County Bodaboda Association Chairman, Joseph Mwangu.
Speaking after the clean-up exercise, Naibei said that there was no enmity between the police and the motorcyclists but added that it was important for them to observe the law while engaging in their duties of looking for their daily bread.
“I urge the boda boda operators not to view the police as their enemy, but instead work together with us to ensure the safety of all road users,” he said.
“When you wear helmets and reflector jackets, and arm yourself with a valid driving licence and your motorbike’s insurance, we will never ever clash,” he said.
He said the boda boda operators were very important to the police because they have a lot of information since they transport different kinds of people. He asked them to cooperate to stem crime.
Mul thanked the welfare association for initiating the monthly clean up saying it had brought unity among different groups, government departments, investors, and corporates such as banks.
”I am happy that today we have boda boda operators present in this exercise because there has been an erroneous notion that police are enemies of boda boda,” he said.
He echoed the sentiments made by Naibei, imploring the boda boda operators to ensure they obtain valid documents to operate on the roads for their own safety and that of other road users.
On his part, Mwangu, the boda boda operators’ chairman, pledged to cooperate with the police to ensure peace and security in the area as well as keep the environment clean.
He however urged police officers also to leave law abiding boda boda operators to work in peace, saying not all of them were bad.
“We have many operators who are following the law in their daily activities but they too have been targeted by officers. For peace to prevail, only those who break the law should be punished,” he said.
By Emmanuel Masha