Nairobi’s Boda Boda Menace Makes Violent Comeback


On November 27, a gang of boda boda riders were captured on video as they accosted and beat up a helpless motorist. This is just one among hundreds of similar incidents that happen across the Kenyan capital Nairobi, almost on a daily basis.

All attempts to control the gung-ho brigade always seem to taper off without as much as a dent on their mode of operation.

The gang is back in full force across Nairobi’s CBD as well as its suburbs, and their brazen disregard for any form of traffic law has been driving motorists and pedestrians crazy with rage.

Pedestrians have been knocked over, or left feeling the blinding pain of being hit by the handles of these motorcyles. Known to bulldoze their way through pedestrian walkways while hooting annoyingly, county residents have been constantly calling for action by the County government.

Boda boda riders at the junction of Kirinyaga and Racecourse Road in Nairobi on June 27, 2017.
Boda boda riders at the junction of Kirinyaga and Racecourse Road in Nairobi on June 27, 2017.

From overtaking cars from the wrong side and flying through red lights, boda boda riders are now the leading cause of death on the roads as per the the latest report from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).

Statistics show that the low-cost motorcycles now kill more people than vehicles with 1,421 riders and pillion passengers dying in 2019 compared to 1,049 drivers and passengers who lost their lives from motor vehicle-related deaths.

On August 19, two riders were bludgeoned to death while trying to steal at a construction site at Nairobi’s Valley Arcade.

The mob decided to take matters in their hands and beat them up with crude weapons, killing them.

According to a police statement, the two robbers were cornered by the construction workers who had noticed that they were losing valuables while busy at work.

“Our valuables kept disappearing, our clothes and other items. These robbers riding on boda boda have been stealking from us every so often, until when they were cornered,” an eye witness detailed at the time.

Other riders have been known to ferry thugs on their high-speed snatch and run operations, leading to a ban on bodas in certain areas within Nairobi such as the road that links Muthaiga to Thika Superhighway as well as the connecting roads within Runda.

File image of boda bodas.
File image of boda bodas.

Cases of thugs who steal from the public and flee the scene of the crime using waiting motorbikes have been on the increase.

This even caught the attention of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

In July, the DCI shared a video of two robbers who shot a civilian in Eastleigh along 14th street and fled on a motorbike.

In their defence, the boda boda riders who actually adhere to rules and regulations have publicly condemned their colleagues, arguing that the stereotype is not fair.

There are an estimated 500,000 motorcycles on the roads today and 14.5 million people riding bodabodas on a daily basis, riders are said to rake in a collective Ksh450 million on a daily basis.


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