Boda Boda riders have a poor reputation in this country. The stereotype they have earned is one of poor hygiene, careless driving and flagrant disregard of other road users and road rules. That many people have died in their quest to chase the almighty shilling is in no doubt.
But the Boda Boda industry provide our morgues with an inordinate amount of bodies every year. This fact still doesn’t stop many riders from engaging in this risky trade. Many young men engage in this trade even when they have poor riding skills.
The true shocker came this week when it was revealed how much money these hellraisers on our roads contributed to the economy last year! In 2016, about 146,000 motorcycles worth Sh8.2 billion were imported, down from 182,000 motorcycles worth Sh10.7 billion brought in a year earlier.
The Boda-Boda industry is emerging as one of the biggest drivers of the economy, with operators generating Sh219 billion in revenue last year. Going by the latest industry figures, it means the operators of the popular mode of transport collectively made more than East Africa’s most profitable company, Safaricom, which had total revenues of Sh212 billion in the 2016/17 financial year! Ngai!
According to figures released by the Motorcycle Assemblers Association of Kenya (MAAK) yesterday, there are about 600,000 commercial motorcycles on Kenyan roads, with each making, on average, Sh1,000 a day. This translates to Sh600 million a day and Sh219 billion annually.
MAAK Chairman Isaac Kalua said about eight people depended on each motorcycle in operation for their daily livelihood. In total, Mr. Kalua said, about 4.8 million people depend on motorcycles. Mr. Kalua said:
“Until there is a solution to mass transport, there shall continue to be a need.”
Weee! Money is being made in the most unlikely of corners in our society; Boda Bodas.