Members of the Umoja Gakawa Union study driving theory

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31 May 2013

Most of Tambuzi employees rely heavily on the use of motorbike taxis, or “boda-bodas” as a means of transport up and down the Burguret-Matanya road, the main thoroughfare between their homes and work at Tambuzi farm. Typically, boda-bodas are not perceived as being safe to use due to poor maintenance, over-loading, and lack of driving knowledge on the part of the operator. Yet these vehicles are an essential part of life in the region, and we at Tambuzi believe that happy, safe boda-boda drivers equate to a happy and safe community. Sadly most boda-boda drivers and their machines do not possess paperwork that complies with the New Traffic Rules of the Republic of Kenya. So we set out to change all that. This is how we did it.

In order to comply with Section 103B of the Traffic Amendment Bill of 2012, Tambuzi’s management offered to assist Umoja Gakawa Boda-Boda (the boda-boda association that operates along the Burguret-Matanya road) to become a safe, legal and exemplary association. With this action, we hope that other boda-boda associations around the country will look to Umoja Gakawa as a fine example of how to run such a business, and will hopefully emulate them.
It was on the basis of a survey that the project was deemed essential. The survey was carried out and the following were our crucial discoveries:
Despite most boda-boda operators (84%) owning motorbikes with logbooks and having fully paid for their vehicle, only 13% have a valid license with which to operate them. With 87% not having valid licenses, it also means that a high percentage of these operators do not even have insurance.
During the pre-election campaigns, politicians invested heavily in reflective jackets for the boda-boda operators as a means of garnering support. Thus the majority of drivers (97%) have the regulation reflective clothing, but none carry any for their passengers. Of these operators, 90% also have helmets for themselves yet none for their passengers, a regulation which is mandatory as stated in the New Traffic Act.

To assist the Burguret-Matanya boda-boda operators, it was essential that the operators first undergo a formal driving lesson with a registered driving school to obtain a license before they could comply with the rest of the requirements of the New Traffic rules. Three quotes from three different driving schools in Nanyuki were obtained to compare prices and services offered.  Eventually the directors at Tambuzi chose the AA driving school of Nanyuki, and we provided a 50,000 Kenya Shilling loan to the boda-boda association to enable ten operators to attend driving lessons with them. The training sessions were held at the Burguret shopping centre for a period of 15 days. The 50,000 KSH loan is a revolving fund which enables those who have been trained to repay the association through a written agreement as well as to have the rest of the members also attend training. Once they all have valid driving licenses, Tambuzi can negotiate on their behalf to obtain a group insurance agreement.

Tambuzi is proud to announce that of the first ten operators to sit the driving exam in Nyeri on May 16th, every single one of them passed with flying colours. This was not only a boost to the morale of the motorbike drivers who are accustomed to being marginalized for beings “outlaws” and dangerous to their passengers, but also a huge boost to the community, for people now may put faith in their main mode of transport. The cycle of trust perpetuates itself. Well done, Umoja Gakawa, its drivers, and well done, Tambuzi!

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