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,
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.
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
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
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
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.