Boda boda operators who are yet to comply to safety regulations risk arrest as the government begins the implementation of the new laws aimed at bringing sanity to the chaotic public motorcycle transport industry.
The riders are expected to acquire driving licences, insurance and protective gear including reflector jackets, boots and helmets.
Last December, the Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and his Interior counterpart, Fred Matiang’i, extended the deadline from February 1 to May 1, 2019 for over 700,000 boda boda riders to comply with the new regulations.
This followed an outcry from the operators asking for more time to acquire the required documents and gear.
It costs a rider at least Sh9,000 to acquire a driving licence and another Sh9,000 for insurance.
The government’s tough stance on the sector comes amid increasing pressure to control boda boda operators who account for the second highest number of head-on collisions in the country.
Their disorderly manner of operations poses danger to other road users like pedestrians, public and private motorists.
The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) statistics indicate that a total of 3,767, including 141 motor cyclists and 339 pedestrians, perished in road accidents between January 1 and April 11, this year.
That is an increase of 24 percent compared to 3,024 who lost their lives in road accidents within the same period last year.
Some boda bodas have also been linked to criminal activities while in other areas, they are themselves increasingly becoming the target of criminal attacks.
Under the new regulations, boda boda riders will be required to register in Saccos and pay for National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). The NHIF cover will enable them get medical treatment.
NTSA is required to digitally register the riders and issue them with a chip that will identify them.
All boda boda operators must acquire training, get certification, wear helmets among other safety measures before they start operating.
The boda boda industry has created thousands of jobs in urban and rural areas. This has seen motorcycle sales grow sharply due to the increased demand and the entry of cheaper models from China.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that a total of 195,253 new motorcycles were registered in 2018.
Boda boda are a fast, efficient, flexible and relatively affordable mode of transport.