Motorcyclists clean up their image in Mwanza

Motorcyclists clean up their image in Mwanza


A city motorcyclist, Seif Mussa (45),  says: "Some of our customers have complained that unscrupulous motorcylists, I would call them thugs and hooligans, have on several occasions robbed passengers and run away."

Mussa, a father  of four,  believes that such actions taint the image of all motorcylists operating on the streets and  scare people from using the service provided by hundreds of motorcyclists based in the city. "It is  very outrageous, there have been reports that such wicked people posing as motorcylists violently attack  innocent  people.

Most of these incidents occur late at night," he narrates. Another motocyclist, who is stationed at Pamba Road further  revealed: "Recently one woman was attacked at Isamilo area  by a motorcyclist who threatened to kill her using a machete if she did not surrender all her belongings. Such violence not only drives away passengers but makes us the motorcyclists look like hard core criminals," he lamented.

Popularly called 'bodaboda', motorcycles  have become quite common in the city. Walking around Mwanza city, you are likely to come across hundreds of the motorcyclists who transport passengers all over the City. Safety wise the motorcyclists have a rather carefree attitude. A significant number of motorcyclists do not wear  helmets. They ignore the helmets, and ride  with their heads bare and unprotected.

Others have a total disregard for traffic rules  and carrying  more than two passengers on a single  motorcycle. Experts say such malpractices  pave the way for fatal accidents. It is against this background, that the Mwanza  Motorcyclists Organization (MMO) was established in 2008. Its fundamental goals are to co-ordinate, supervise, and enhance competencies among the local motorcylists in the city.

The Coordinator of MMO, Mr  Abdul Abdallah,  says  the organisation has over 1,000 active  members, and efforts are underway to register more members. The organisation focuses  on encouraging voluntary adherence to road safety measures. "We have  hundreds of motorcyclists here in the City who have very little knowledge on road regulations and rules.

To make matters worse, most of these people who get into the bodaboda business do not undego any training," says Mr Abdallah.
Mwanza City, which comprises  of  Nyamagana and Ilemela districts,  has more than  2,500 motorcyclists  who carry passengers around the City and beyond.

"In the past, an interested motorcyclist just went to the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) offices where he paid taxes and would be allowed to operate. Now  the procedure has changed as we at MMO have been vested with the mandate  to  register qualified members, and ultimately the MMO solicits licences from the relevant authorities," he explained.

One section in the MMO constitution, states  that members  have to be at least 18 years old. Under section seven in the same document MMO strictly prohibits its members from getting involved in any anti-social behaviour. The Secretary General of MMO, Faraji Abdul, says the organisation has employed inspectors who patrol  the streets while enforcing adherence to road safety rules and regulations by members. The inspectors have the power to arrest  defaulters,  and hand them  over to the police for further legal action, he says.

"Motorcyclists not wearing  helmets, for example, are brought here  to  our offices in Mabatini Area for counselling and warning. However, those who defy our instructions are always taken to the Police to face the wrath of the law," he said.  The Secretary says his organisation, in collaboration with the Vocational Education Training Authority (VETA) in the Lake Zone, has  since June 2011  embarked on provision of trainings  aimed to enhance compentencies to the target members. Over 400 members have  already benefited from the these training, he says.

"We expect to send more  members for training. I can assure you the  trainings have played a big role in curbing road accidents caused by motorcyclists," he says. The Mwanza  regional chairperson of MMO, Makoye Kayanda, says: "The deaths from motorcycle accidents  inflict heavy losses  and we cannot simply stand back and look on while blaming the victims. It is only fair we take action so as to increase the saftey of the motorcyclists and the passengers," says the chairperson.

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