(Xinhua) -- Motorbike taxi rider Zachary
Mutua offered his would-be female passenger a helmet and
a reflector jacket.
He then put on his jacket, then
helmet, mounted his bike and waited the passenger to
But before he started the journey, he
agreed with the passenger the route to use, the money
she would pay him, 1 U.S. dollar for the 5 km journey,
and offered her some safety tips.
Initially, Mutua who operates in the
central business district in Nairobi, would not care
about his passenger wearing a reflector jacket or
However, thanks to training, he and
tens of other riders in the capital are working to make
the sector professional and safe.
This is by observing traffic rules,
safety measures and ensuring their customers are
satisfied with their services.
The motorbike taxis are one of the
most critical in the transport sector in Kenya but for
the past decade, the industry had been neglected.
The riders, known as boda boda and who
are in their thousands, have been known for all things
that are wrong in the Kenyan transport sector.
They have been the highest
contributors of road accidents, according to the
National Transport Safety Authority and even crime, with
motorbikes being used for getaway from crime scenes.
But all these is changing, thanks to
the Boda Boda Association of Kenya, which brings
together all riders.
The association is training its
members like Mutua as it seeks to infuse professionalism
in the sector.
“We have been trained on safety,
traffic rules and customer handling and even personal
hygiene,” said Mutua on Wednesday.
Boda Boda Association chairman Kenneth
Onyango noted that they work with various associations
and authorities, including the Kenya Red Cross and the
police to train members.
Some of the lessons are offered on
social media, where the boda boda grouping is so active.
“As an association, we are committed
to reduce road accidents involving boda boda riders by
through training our members. Our duty is to streamline
the industry, thus, we ask for support from government
to help us change everything,” said Onyango.
The association has become the
self-regulator of the industry, trying to make the key
industry that is spread across Kenya serve the public
“This industry employs thousands of
people, so it’s crucial and must be bettered for
self-sustenance,” said Bernard Mwangi, a rider and a
member of the association, who dropped out of college
for lack of school fees.
Mwangi, who operates in Kitengela,
noted that the association comes in handy in dealing
with cases of indiscipline and helping members in
“I got an accident and it is fellow
riders who came to my rescue. They took me to hospital
and even paid my first aid bill before I was transferred
to another hospital,” he said.
The riders have savings societies
through which they contribute money and take loans that
include for buying new bikes or even paying school fees.
“We contribute money every week
through the table-banking system and we are able to take
loans,” said Mwangi.
The riders, through the association,
have also set fares for various routes in the town to
avoid unfair competition.
Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer
in Nairobi, welcomed the professionalism being infused
in the sector, noting it is critical for its long-term
“This is a sector that contributes
greatly to the economy but for years it has been rogue.
That things are changing is something to celebrate,” he
With over 500,000 machines across the
East African nation and over 150,000 bikes registered
annually, motorcycles are deeply entrenched in the lives
of Kenyans and the economy.
“We drive huge fuel sales. We are
estimated to be over 500,000 boda boda operators and
with each of us fueling an average of fuel worth of 5
dollars per day, we inject into the economy some 2.4
million dollars every day,” the association notes in a