Moshi — SURFACE and Marine Transport Regulation Authority (SUMATRA) has announced sweeping measures against bodaboda owners and riders throughout the country in a move to tackle the accidents that cause numerous losses of lives.
SUMATRA Director General, Mr Gilliard Ngewe, said on Tuesday that no person will be allowed to ferry a passenger with motorcycle or tricycle if they do not have licences that are to be issued to only members of Bodaboda Association.
"We are going to take drastic measures because we cannot stay idle while people are dying from bodaboda accidents. This is devastating situation as the number of deaths surpasses even that of patients who die from malaria and AIDS.
"We cannot entertain such a situation any more," said the DG before issuing licences to members of Kilimanjaro Bodaboda Owners and Riders Association.
Mr Ngewe told bodaboda owners and riders who do not adhere to the law and rules to keep their motorcycles at home otherwise they will end up paying fines or even land in jail. He said every bodaboda should be registered and riders given special membership identification cards.
He said that the government had to put in place rules and regulations that would guide bodaboda riders but many flout them now. Some of the bikes are used to facilitate drug trafficking, illegal immigration, bank robberies and thefts on streets, homes and shops.
The director general's warning comes about a month after President Jakaya Kikwete, while in Ruvuma, said something has to be done about bodaboda operations and Mr Ngewe said if bodaboda owners fail to comply with the new rules, SUMATRA may have to disband bodaboda transport altogether.
He said bodaboda owners were allowed to operate in areas where commuter buses are not active and warned against obtaining dubious licences.
He said only SUMATRA issues them, or city, municipal and town councils on its behalf and under its strict instructions. The SUMATRA boss hailed Kilimanjaro as the region with minimum accidents. He attributed the situation to a move made by Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Leonidas Gama's proactive approach which has ushered in efficient control. "This region is exemplary to the entire nation.
Transport sector needs people like Mr Gama. If only we had three others of his kind the sector would have recorded massive achievement.
"Kilimanjaro is unique. I call upon other leaders to come to Kilimanjaro and learn, because Mr Gama has the solution for the bodaboda problem.
Accidents are causing terrible injuries and losses of lives. If they do not take action, we are going to get rid of bodaboda transport," warned the DG. Speaking at the occasion, RC Gama said he worked closely with the Regional Defence and Security Committee and bodaboda owners. The idea was formation of an association.
The idea worked as the region has few accidents. He said there used to be a special ward for victims of bodaboda accidents at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) where he visited several times, before deciding to establish the association that has reduced the accidents to a large extent.
Mr Gama who is the guardian of the association, said only members are licensed to carry passengers. He added that special bodaboda centres (stops) are in the offing with special orders on where riders will operate.