Boda boda is one of the most commonly used means of transport countrywide, having evolved in the last couple of years, thereby, offering employment to majority of the unemployed youths.
According to 2018 official data, at least 1.4 million motorcycles have been registered in Kenya, many of which are used for passenger’s transport.
Last March this year, the government officially launched the registration of boda boda operators and the subsequent issuance of Smart Driving Licenses to qualified riders in all the 52 Huduma Centres across the country.
The initiative was aimed at streamlining the boda boda sub-sector and promote road safety, as well as security for the operators and users of their service.
The boda boda sub-sector plays a significant role in the country’s economy, with approximately 5.2 million Kenyans being directly or indirectly impacting on the sector, which represents 10 per cent of the population with an estimated revenue of over Sh350 billion annually.
Nearly 17,000 motorcycles are registered each month according to the government statistics in 2019.
The government has now teamed up with the Boda- boda Association of Kenya (BAK) and introduced measures to help tame the boda boda industry by introducing digital badges and personal numbers using Bar Codes (BQ) that when scanned can provide details of the rider
Details such as their area of operation, name, the stage they operate in, phone number as well as the number of the chairman of those areas to help reduce crime and theft cases in the sector and also in case of any incidentals are encompassed in the code.
Consequently, the Chairman of the boda boda society in Thindigua, Kiambu County, Mark Owino, confided to KNA that the new technology introduced by the government has been of great help to the riders because it has saved the industry from experiencing bike theft issues and also enabled easy identification in case of crime or accident.
“Initially, theft cases were rampant because it wasn’t easy to identify those involved in the crime, but with advent of the new technology, incidents of crime have reduced and customers now feel safer,’’ he said.
Owino also stated that the digital license has been of great benefit to the operators because if one engages in an accident and is unable to speak or loose unconscious, the rescuers can scan their details and help.
At the same time, John Kiarie, a boda boda rider in Thindigua noted that courtesy of the introduction of the new technology, his only source of income was recovered after his boda boda had been stolen.
“I have been in this business for five years, but I was recently admitted because of an accident. I happened to be a victim of robbery. Two customers approached me and as I was taking them to the agreed destination, they beat me up and robbed me off my bike. Luckily, my bike had a bar code which made it easier for the police to recover it and capture the thieves,” he said.
Kiarie urged his fellow boda boda operators to register and embrace the new technology for their own safety and those of their customers.
Meanwhile, for one to access the smart driving license, a rider must present himself/herself in person to any Huduma Centers across the country, with their original National Identity Card, a copy of their KRA pin number, an active registered phone number and an application form from a rider’s Sacco, to validate them.
By Naomi Wangari