By Obegi Malack
Motorcycles are increasingly becoming a popular means of transport for many rural and urban dwellers.
However, a National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) report has found that motorbike riders are the leading cause of road accidents, increased crimes, and teenage pregnancies.
Many boda boda operators have also become lynch mobs who know no traffic rules as the sector operates with minimal regulation from the governments.
Many of the operators live from hand to mouth, have no skills in savings, and are thus easily trapped in illegal activities.
In Kajiado North Sub County, a group of bodaboda operators has formed a Saving and Credit Co-operative Society- Ngong Bodaboda Sacco- to improve their livelihood.
The idea started in 2016, according to the Sacco chairperson David Gitau, after witnessing a significant number of their colleagues dying in accidents and others involved in crimes.
“Every month we lost a colleague in an accident, we used to spend a lot of money for their burials and young families were left fighting for themselves,” said Mr. Gitau.
He says that they were 114 members when they started. They had to fundraise at Ngong Stadium to raise money for office equipment and later opened a small office in Youth Empowerment Centre in Ngong.
From a contribution of Sh100 daily per member, the Sacco has grown in leaps and bounds. Today they own a 15-acre land worth Sh9 million at Maroroi, Kajiado West Sub County.
“We had not saved enough and we had to approach Rafiki Bank for a loan,” Gitau says. They saved for six months and were loaned Sh7 million, which they have repaid.
The Sacco is also able to buy motorbikes for its members and train them on road safety. This way, members who were employed now own motorcycles.
Kajiado County Women Representative Janet Teiyaa, through affirmative action fund, supported the Sacco members to open a motorbike spare parts shop.
“The spare parts in other shops were too expensive and this pushed us to open our shop, nowadays riders can repair their motorbikes and pay later,” Gitau says.
Determined to grow, the Sacco members this year have managed to get another Sh5.8 loan from Rafiki Bank to venture into matatu business. They now own a 33-seater bus worth Sh 6.2 million.
Deputy President William Ruto recently hosted them in his Karen home and awarded them Sh 500,000 for operating a successful business.
Other local leaders, including Kajiado North MP Joseph Manje and Ngong MCA Robert Sungura, have sponsored the riders for driving training. AA Insurance has also trained the members on road safety, and this has seen accidents reduce drastically in the town.
The Sacco is now planning to build three-bedroom houses for the members in their land. They have approached a contractor and registered with Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives (KUSCCO), which will offer every member Sh1 million loan for construction of the houses.