By John Kariuki
Over one million motorcycle transport operators commonly known as Boda-Bodas under the Boda Boda Safety Association of Kenya (BAK), have agreed to preach and observe peace before, during and after the general elections on August 9th.
In a meeting held in Nairobi on July 27, 2022, more than one hundred officials of the BAK led by their National Executive Chairman, Kevin Mubadi, endorsed and adopted the Mkenya Daima Leadership and Peace Pledge, with an aim to spread the Mkenya Daima message of peace and responsible voting within their localities.
Through BAK representing an estimated 1.6 million Boda Boda riders across the country, the officials committed to being ambassadors of peace, including promoting patriotism and non-violence in their electioneering conduct.
“Peace is important for the success of the Boda Boda industry because it is almost impossible to complete the transportation cycle anywhere in Kenya today without the use of Boda Bodas. Our members have enormous influence and reach in both the urban and rural communities where they live and operate, and this is where voting will take place. BAK is therefore a vital organ in carrying this peace and accountability message to the people, even as we near the election date,” said Mubadi.
From taking people to work, children to school, farm produce to the markets and even the sick to hospital, Boda Boda transport, largely via motorcycles is one of the most used means of transport in Kenya, mainly serving the last mile needs of both the working middle class and trading communities.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Vimal Shah, Chairman Mkenya Daima said it was important for all Kenyans to interrogate who they want to vote for, to safeguard and guarantee the peace necessary for socio-economic stability that is essential for businesses continuity and prosperity for Kenya as a nation.
“Selflessness, objectivity, integrity, openness, and honesty are some of the values we need to see in our leaders. Let us all pay attention to the issues that we want our elected leaders to address, including those that also affect the Boda Boda transport sector, for example improving the dignity of work for riders as well as bringing order and better customer service by riders, and which is what commuters expect,” said Shah.
He further urged the Boda Boda leaders to take the responsibility of Kukagua kabla ya kuchagua, Kupiga kura na Kudumisha Amaniin line with the Mkenya Daima call of Nitatenda Wajibu Wangu.
Vincent Were, the Head of Corporate Relations and Partnerships said BAK was keen to develop more formal engagements with the private sector via initiatives such as Mkenya Daima and even the fight against gender-based violence while also gaining opportunities for knowledge exchange to benefit BAK members who are primarily entrepreneurs and investors in the transport sector.
“We need to empower the Boda Boda fraternity to also become champions and advocates of mental health and safety in the communities on our way to achieving a GBV-free society. Therefore, we must all come together to elect credible leaders who will not just pay lip service during campaigns, but those who will deliver on their promises when they come into office,” said Zuhura Odhiambo, the Mental Health and GBV sub-sector Lead under the Gender Sector Board at the Kenya Private Sector
Rasi Masudi, Director of Voter Education and Partnerships at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) urged the Boda Boda community to come out in large numbers and exercise their democratic right to vote, then resume their normal businesses. “We are discouraging people from hoarding in the polling stations after voting in the name of “kuchunga kura” as this creates unnecessary tension. As IEBC, we are committed and confident in carrying out our mandate of delivering free, fair, and credible elections.” He said.
Key leaders who also spoke included Catherine Musakali, KEPSA Director who encouraged the Boda boda fraternity to aspire to grow their businesses by exploring new opportunities and partnerships such as developing joint programs with the private sector in areas where they lack capacity or require training to achieve scale.
The Mkenya Daima Initiative 2022 seeks to promote the election of transformative leaders, increase awareness among Kenyans of the desired qualities of a good leader, and enhance positive discourse on a prosperous Kenya by increasing hope, confidence, and optimism among Kenyans.