Ever had a ride on the famous boda-boda? I know most of us have had it as it one of the most used form of transport in the city and in the rural areas. I have always wondered why the title boda-boda until I learnt the title goes way back to 1950s as people crossing the border between Kenya and Uganda used bicycles or motorcycle couriers to either dodge customs officials or beat the fatigue of walking through the various checkpoints of the two countries’ borders. Thus, the name boda-boda.
Boda-boda later resurged around 1997 when after several years of using bicycles for the business; its players explored with buying motor cycles. The rising urban populations necessitated the use of this type of transport as it is convenient for moving across a large area without spending much.
The Boda-boda industry has become an expansive employing quite a large number. Most youths have ventured into the boda-boda business as a way of getting employment. Many have been successful and are able to support their families comfortably.
Regardless of its attractiveness, the boda-boda industry is seen as a bother to areas where they operate. While boda-boda have proven to be the most convenient mode of transport in recent time, not so many people are happy with the antiques being displayed by some operators.
Women and girls are now living in fear of riding the boda-boda due to sexual harassment. Fingers are being pointed at boda-boda operators as the notorious perpetrators. Some female users of boda-boda claim that some riders go as far as ensuring that they struggle to get on board the motor-bike so as to expose their inner wear for other riders or colleagues to see. Sadly, the other operators then giggle and some go to the extent of shouting the colour of the inner leaving the women embarrassed.
Once the victims report the incidents, the suspected boda-boda riders usually go on exile by changing the route of operations once word gets out that a warrant of arrest has been issued. Some go as far as changing their boda-boda plate number to avoid being traced. Notoriously, some go as far as offering women a ride in exchange for sex, while others rape and defile women and girls customers on the way.
So as to have safe rides the following is recommended for the women and girls;
- Do not entertain sexual advancement from the boda-boda operators
- Only use familiar boda-boda operators
- Do not to entertain riders who take wrong routes or talk vulgar.
- Wear protective gear; a Helmet, Eye and Face protection, long pants, gloves, boots and a durable long-sleeved jacket
Boda-boda industry is a lucrative business in Kenya and it supports the livelihood of many families. However, if safety regulations were to be followed the business would be a venture in which women would feel safe and comfortable to venture into. Let’s all be Safe!
Lucy Wambui, B.A in Gender and Development Studies graduate from Kenyatta University. She is an intern with
FloNe initiative. She has also worked with Kenyatta University Gender Association Movement as a Trainer of Trainers. All her work has been based on creating awareness on Gender Based violence, Sexual harassment and social cohesion.She has also been involved in research work on gender and transport with he latest work being on ” effects of boda boda caused accidents on men and women a case of Githurai , Nairobi County.
Her motivation is drawn from personal experiences and her passion on women and girls’ issues.
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