The Star (Nairobi)

25 January 2013

Kenya: Protest By Boda Boda Operators Paralyses Transport in Narok Town

THERE was tension in Narok town on Wednesday evening after police and boda boda operators engaged in running battles for more than two hours.

They blocked the busy Narok-Bomet road using rocks and lit bonfires paralysing transport. Hundreds of commuters including tourists visiting the world-famous Maasai Mara were stranded for several hours.

Vehicles from Nairobi were caught up in a traffic snarl up that stretched as far as Ole Tipis Secondary School, while those from Western Kenya reached at Total area.

The more than 2,000 angry Boda-Boda operators were protesting against police harassment. Trouble started when traffic officers started a crackdown against vehicles that are flouting the new traffic laws.

Several riders were arrested. The boda boda operators claimed the police have been arresting them and imposing huge fines. Police were called to stop the demonstrating riders and disperse them after they were joined by the wananchi.

"Our families depend on us from this motorbike business, when police arrest us and impose huge fines, we are reduced to nothing," said one of the boda boda operators.

But the Narok traffic police boss Joe Hamisi said most of the road accidents which take place in Narok are caused by the riders because of negligence and disregard of the traffic rules.

"The boda boda operators are flouting the rules. We are not going to allow the operators to conduct their businesses with impunity," said Hamisi. They must obey the traffic law."

He said police had impounded more than 50 motorcycles operating illegally. Hamisi said most of the operators did not have insurance, licence, reflector jackets and helmets. "The culture of impunity must stop," said the traffic boss.

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