The love for politics by boda boda riders is not new in Kenya. Every electioneering year, it is common to see the commercial motorcyclists in long queues, accompanying politicians to or from political rallies.
Teso North Boda Boda Association organising secretary Bernard Esiromo said their endearment to politicians emanates from their need to seek for the election of leaders who have people’s interests at heart.
He told the Star most riders are ordinary folk, always concerned with who gets elected at which level or position. “We play an important role in elective politics and most leaders know they need us for support. They need us just as we need them,” Esiromo said.
Data from his office shows there are 5,372 registered boda boda riders in Teso North subcounty alone, and that Busia as a county boasts of 12,955 of such listed members.
This to him is a huge number that can propel a politician to any level during campaigns, since more than 95 per cent of their members are between the active age of 18 and 35.
They are turned to to mobilise support and help put on a show when a politician is campaigning or holding an event.
IN TOUCH BEYOND POLLS
Busia County Boda Boda Association chairman Eric Makokha said most voters’ relationship with politicians fades after polls. This is after leaders such as MPs, woman representatives and senators relocate to Nairobi, where they conduct their representation responsibilities from.
But unlike other voters, most boda boda riders remain in close touch with such leaders, even in their absence upcountry, Makokha said.
Two months ago, Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, who is serving his last term as county chief, held a fundraiser in Malaba in aid of the Malaba Border Riders Sacco. Present were Teso North MP Oku Kaunya (ANC) and Nyakach’s Aduma Owuor (ODM).
The event was held with the objective of buying a Nissan matatu for the sacco’s members to ply the Malaba-Bungoma route. It raised Sh1.1 million.
Sacco chairman John Orono lauded the three leaders for their effort, which he said aims to uplift the lives of the riders, most of whom come from humble backgrounds.
“We ventured into the sacco movement to empower the members, most of whom are youth,” Orono said as the Nissan matatu was launched.