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Why Lamu residents are fed up of boda bodas.

Residents of Lamu are complaining that there is an increase of accidents in the town caused by boda bodas.

Three days ago, a Standard Two pupil succumbed to injuries she sustained after being hit by a speeding motorcycle outside the school gate.

The 9-year-old girl was a pupil at the Mahmoud Bin Fadhil Primary School in the town.

Lamu was listed as a Unesco historical heritage site in 2001. The town structural designs only allow movement by foot or by donkeys which is the traditional mode of transport on the narrow alleys.

Over the years, there have been concerns by Unesco that Lamu risks being delisted since the old town's heritage faces threat from westernisation.

Motorcycles are now more of a curse than a blessing to locals and tourists.

It is common to see schoolchildren using walking sticks or crutches after they were knocked down by speeding motorcycles. Some residents have their limbs amputated as a result of increased accidents.

Residents are now blaming the county government for failing to contain the boda boda menace, which they say should not be allowed on the small island.

The previous regime under former Governor Issa Timamy had banned motorcycles and private vehicles from the town in a bid to sustain the Island's image as a heritage site.

However by August 2017, boda bodas had become fully established businesses in the Lamu town under the current regime.

The situation poses a challenge not just to the traditional set up of transport in the town but also to the general planning and safety of inhabitants.

To contain the situation, the current regime under Governor Fahim Twahabanned boda bodas from operating inside the old own and restricted them to the outskirts of the town.

However, boda boda riders have not been respected the ban and its is business as usual.

Residents are threatening to hold mass demos to have the boda boda business stopped before things get worse.

Chairperson of Lamu Girls Primary School board Husein Miji said the presence of the motorcycles is a threat to students lives.

Miji said the county government should form legislations banning the motorcycles from operating close to schools and other learning institutions.

'We lost a small girl who was knocked down just outside the school gate by a speeding motorcycle. I know many other students in other schools who are walking on crutches after they were knocked down too. We can't live like this. Lamu town cannot accommodate automobiles and even the county knows that," Miji said.

Transport in the town has become a nightmare since the motorcycles began operating.

Tourism stakeholders say the increased number of boda bodas in the town will scare away visitors. Unfortunately, some of the tourists have also been knocked down by the motorcycles.

Hotelier Ali Abubakar says, 'I know of three tourists who were knocked down byboda boda riders. Its not just embarrassing but it is also not good for business because they're no longer interested in Lamu as a tourist destination, they are going to Watamu and Kwale which are safer.Lamu town is no longer appealing since the heritage is slowly disappearing."

Efforts to speak to the boda boda chairperson Omar Famau were unsuccessfulas he did not answer the Star's calls.

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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Jul 6, 2019
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