Security and risk management experts, SF Group, are accusing a section of boda boda operators of being at the centre of criminal activities witnessed in Nairobi in recent days. SF Group released an Advisory to Kenyans, warning them of potential perpetrators and risky areas to avoid as law enforcement strategizes on ways forward.
In the advisory, they said the incidents mainly target pedestrians, traders and motorists, and increasingly feature the use of motorcycles and boda-boda taxis. They said despite frequent operations conducted by the Nairobi County police surveillance teams, both plain-clothed and uniformed, muggings in the Nairobi CBD and along busy roads have continued.
“These operations reached a peak on November 4, when police arrested at least 200 motorcycle taxi (boda bodas) operators linked to criminal activity across the city,” they said.
They said affluent areas such as Kilimani, Karen as well as low-to-middle income settlements in Eastlands are often targeted in armed confrontations. Others include Muthaiga, Kileleshwa, Gigiri, Lavington, Kitisuru and Westlands, which are often targeted for armed home invasions. These areas traditionally experience higher levels of opportunist crime due to the density of commercial facilities, particularly at night.
“Criminals aboard boda-bodas survey and target these neighbour hoods and rob pedestrians of their phones and valuables at gunpoint,” they said. Ken Onyango, Chairman of the Boda Boda Association in Nairobi, has, however termed the remarks as unfair adding that is wrong to categorise all motorcyclists as Boda Bodas.
“Boda boda is a business and many Kenyans in Nairobi use them to earn an honest living. Not all Boda bodas are criminals,” he said. He said the right term to use is motorcycles, as there are people who buy motorcycles to use for unknown personal use which could include, getting away from crime scenes faster.”There is no regulation when buying a motorcycle, nobody asks what you intend to do with it,” he said.
Boda-bodas are a popular means of transport across Kenya, but the sector, SF said, operates under minimal government regulation and little practical control. “As a result, criminals use boda-bodas to conduct robberies as they are cheap, numerous, and very mobile even in heavy traffic, offering a quick means of escape from both foot and vehicle police patrols,” they said.
They approach victims, threaten them and demand cash and other valuables. Where weapons are threatened, they said, the robbers are almost certainly willing to use lethal force.
This story was produced by Ruben Fm in partnership with, Kenya Community Media Network and the Catholic Media Council with support from the German Cooperation as a part of the Our County Our Responsibility project.