25 January 2014

Tanzania: Authorities Suspend Move to Ban Bodaboda From Arusha City Centre

The Arusha Urban District authorities have suspended 'for a while' the planned operations to to kick out motorcycles serving as taxis from the Central Business District.

District Commissioner Mr John Mongela told the nearly 1000 Boda-boda riders who filled the entire Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium here on Thursday, that officials will have to sit down again and see better ways of handling the situation without 'hurting either side.'

About 1500 motorcycles that have been operating here as passenger carriers have been causing lots of inconveniences among motorists and other road users due to frequent cases of reckless riding, accidents and unruly behaviour on roads.

As a result, City Authorities here recently announced intentions to ban the motorcycles from operating within the central business precincts because of the their chaotic nature.

However, representatives of the riders' association in Arusha will be meeting with Regional and District Police officers for further discussions.

The association has been instructed to issue proper identification cards and tags to all their members.

Last week more than 200 irate bodaboda riders caused pandemonium when they blocked two major roads in Arusha protesting against the move to ban them from the city centre and what they described to be 'police harassment.'

Their demonstration towards the Arusha District Commissioner's office inconvenienced motorists and other roads users because of the hundreds of bikes that were being ridden haphazardly and rendered both the Makongoro road and East African Boulevard impassable for two hours.

The irate riders also threatened to beat up any motorist, pedestrian and any other person who stood on their way declaring a state of anarchy along the two city centre roads. They also vowed to beat local leaders of the Arusha Motorcycle Associations who they accused of betraying them.

The District Commissioner, went out to hear their grievances and they told him that for months now police officers have been targeting them with exorbitant fines sometimes exceeding 30,000/- for notifications issued from both real and imaginary traffic offences.

They also out cried the planned operation by City Fathers to throw out all Boda-Bodas from doing business in the Central Business District where offices are located due to concerns of traffic jams as well as unruly behaviour being displayed by the bodboda riders.

The riders also claimed that, their chosen representatives were not supportive and have been ignoring their concerns and that was why they resolved to address the matter themselves by riding in protest to the District Administration block to air their grievances.

The DC told the Boda-Boda riders to report any police or traffic officer who stopped them to demand bribes under the pretence of 'notifications for breaching road regulations.

"Report those bad elements (officers) directly to my office," said Mr Mongela.

Some of the motorcycle riders' association leaders, who preferred not to be mentioned in the paper, said of late the Boda-boda riders have been unruly, behaving as if there were no traffic regulations governing town roads.

"That is why as their leaders we did not take part in their protests because they threatened to beat us, saying we were siding with the government, though in reality we have been trying to remind them that they were not above the law to an extend of causing anarchy on local roads,"' they stated.

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