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Slow police re-action and/ or appearance at 'boda boda'
accidents is definitely encouraging mob justice to grow

Coastweek --  As road users in whatever capacity we need to be part of the change that will reduce the carnage on our roads and also make driving more pleasurable, writes Teti Kamugunda.

Each of us has a role whether we are the owners of a vehicle, the driver of a vehicle, the passenger in a vehicle, or the road owner, designer or maintainer.

In the last few weeks we have been fed with stories of motorised boda boda riders taking the law into their own hands and torching any vehicle that was involved in an incident that resulted in a bod boda rider being injured or killed.

This was not limited to one part of the country but was evenly spread.

This increase of incidents of this nature is extremely worrying and there needs to be a concerted effort to arrest this bad behaviour before it takes root as a norm.

Two actions are required – arrest and incarceration of perpetrators and then tackling the root behavioural cause.

The first action is firmly in the hands of the police.

When an accident occurs, they have to get there quickly (once they are informed) and then take whatever action is necessary to bring the incident under control and manage the investigation and punishments if needed.

However, in many instances, the police got to know quite late because of our non-functioning 999 system that is supposed to get emergency response agencies to a scene quickly.

The slow appearance of law enforcement agencies or people in authority allows mob justice to grow and eventually take control of situations and especially like in the case here where boda riders, being so many on almost any motorable road in the country, are quick to assemble at a scene of an incident.

With the ubiquity of mobile communication devices, this fraternity is also able to call on each other and very quickly swarm to the location of an incident.

The driver of a vehicle that is involved in an incident with a boda boda rider is alone.

Even if they have a bus load of people with them, the accident is considered to be the responsibility of the driver and it will be difficult to persuade anybody otherwise.

The driver of the vehicle will this face the music alone as the responsible person and woe be to them if they have been driving recklessly when in charge of a bus.

The boda boda rider is almost always considered to be a helpless victim especially when one takes into account the size disadvantage that their ride has compared to any other vehicle on the road (perhaps except for a bicycle!).

What is required is for all police locations to have at least two motorbikes with riders who are experienced all round policemen that can handle most common problems – violence, burglary and road accidents involving injury or major damage.

There is also need to resurrect quickly national emergency numbers that allow rapid despatch of help for emergencies.

If responding organisations are able to respond rapidly on notification then they can arrive at a scene quickly and in the case of irate boda boda riders, quickly take charge of a situation and avoid the kinds of property damage and murders that the boda boda riders are meting out in the name of revenge for accidents to their mates.

It will also mean that there will be a belief that that the law is always close by and be a deterrent to the kind of behaviour that is gaining currency from the boda boda fraternity.

The second and more difficult action is to start a national retraining scheme for all boda boda riders in the country.

It is common knowledge that most of the riders have bought their driving licenses once they have been trained for a day "tested" for two minutes.

The expectation here is that they will rapidly gain good experience through constant use of the bike.

However, the basic training is lacking meaning that a l age number of these riders do not know the highway code and also use the road very recklessly.

Typical errors that they make is to turn at will without taking into consideration the prevailing traffic circumstances, non-use or incorrect use of signals, overloading goods and carrying more than the legislated number of passengers.

Other errors they commit include riding in the wrong position on the road and not observing basic driving etiquette.

What the NTSA should undertake is to take the curriculum that they have already prepared and make it compulsory for all boda boda riders to go through retraining using the curriculum – at a minimal cost to the rider.

The authority should actually bear most of the cost of the retraining as part of the government’s action to uplift standards.

There should be time frame – say six months – within which all riders should have been retrained, tested and relicensed (preferably with the new chip licences).

The authority should get the best trainers and ensure that this does not become another opportunity for its officers to solicit bribes and defeat the purpose of the exercise.

There should be serious personal consequences for any officer found to be wanting in this area and it should not be the usual transfer to another Ministry or location.

Following on from this then it will also be necessary to ensure that infringements of any nature will be swiftly punished and repeat offenders banished from operating

In closing, it is necessary to take drastic, "Michukian" action so as to nip this growing bad practice by boda boda riders in the bud.

We, as road users, should play our part by using available social media and on-line packages to report incidents to the authorities as quickly as possible.

We trust they will take action but it will – at least for me – be some form of catharsis

As Kachumbari says, the boda boda opportunity and menace must be manged well.

             

 

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