Picture this, you are jobless youth with clean records at the Credit Bureau, someone approaches you and sets you up with a lucrative bodaboda loan that is about to make you a small business owner
Once you confirm they disappear with the motorbike and leave you servicing a loan that has not benefited you as intended.
In addition to abducting, maiming and sometimes killing bodaboda operators before stealing their bikes, that is the mode of operation for what is under investigation as an organised syndicate that smuggles stolen motorcycles into neighbouring Ethiopia
For a long time Bodaboda operators in the country have been perceived as aggressors of some sort, but as it turns out they are constantly falling victim to what looks like a syndicate smuggling motorbikes into Ethiopia.
Investigators in the country have established a pattern in motorcycle theft in the recent past, top on the menu for the criminals are new motorcycles taken on loan.
In Busia county, 32 motorbikes taken on credit have gone missing just this year, some as a result of robbery others through creditors being conned.
Bodaboda Association Chairman Eric makokha said that translates to about 4.5 million shillings.
The trend is the same in Kajiado County recently a bodaboda operator by the name George Kuhoria, was accosted by unknown people beaten to death before a brand new motorcycle he was paying for got stolen.
Angered by the situation at hand the riders here directed their anger to the creditors.
“Bona saa zile haujalipa wiki moja hizo tracker zinafanya kazi unakujiwa pale uo lakini saa ile umeibiwa hazifanyi kazi?”
According to the umbrella Bodaboda Association of Kenya Chairman Thomas Lesaatin, this is how the syndicate operates.
They first approach a jobless youth with aspirations of joining the bodaboda business through recruiters.
They pretend to have a tainted crb record and persuade the youth to take credit on their behalf at a fee.
Once that is done the young man is directed where he will bring the motorbike for purposes of signing a contract.
“Na wana register line ambayo baada ya hiyo biashara line inafungwa, kutoka hapo bike inapelekwa Eastleigh na inatolewa ile traker na inaanza safari,”
They leave the swindled young man dealing with the creditors as the bike finds its way to a neighbouring country…
One of the creditors tracked the bikes to Nairobi from different parts of the country before being loaded onto lorries to Moyale and Marsabit county from where they are sold in Ethiopia.
“Wale watu wa Ethiopia hawana haja na logbook wala registration zinaibiwa hapa na ni sahisi saana kuuzwa huko,”
According to Lesaatin more than 400 bikes have been stolen nationally, translating to about 60.million Kenya shillings in 2021
“Tunaona kwamba ni kweyu Ikolomani syndicate ya watu wanafanya his manna ya kuiba pikipiki na tutaweka mikakatu kuwakamata.” Kajiado OCPD told Citizen TV.
As they wait for action bodaboda riders continue to count their losses, pay for bikes they haven’t profited from and foot hospital bills for those injured in robberies and bury those who did not make it out alive.
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