Effect of Bodaboda Business on Rural Transport System in South Imenti Subcounty In Meru County, Kenya.
Kinoti, Dennis Atugi
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It is in public knowledge that youths are the most adversely affected by unemployment due the current economic crisis in Africa and the world at large, this has led youths to engaging in various businesses to earn a living. In Kenya, bodaboda transport business, an informal employment, is giving employment opportunities to many of these youths at a time when unemployment rates are growing daily globally. Bodaboda is not only creating employment for the young people but also facilitating movement of goods and services especially in rural areas dominated by undeveloped road infrastructure. In Kenya, after the zero rating of all motorcycles below 250cc by the Kenyan Government, the motorcycle prices went down leading to the number of motorcycles increasing tremendously. Therefore, for some, motorcycles provided an opportunity to get into the transport business while others bought the motorbikes for their siblings to do business with and others bought the motorbikes and hired them out to idle youths to do business, with condition to give the owners an agreed amount of money daily .South Imenti Subcounty in Meru County which is largely rural has seen the number of bodaboda businesses increasing tremendously in the recent past, however the gains and losses of this business has not been ascertained hence this study sought to explore the effect of bodaboda business on rural transport system in South Imenti Sub County in Meru County, Kenya. Specifically, the study sought to gather information on demographic characteristics of riders; find out bodaboda economic effects on rural transport system; determine bodaboda health effects on rural transport system and lastly to assess bodaboda mobility effects on rural transport system. The study was informed by systems theory, theory of coordination failure and rational choice theory. The study adopted descriptive survey, employing quantitative approach to source, process and analyze data. Data collection tool was a structured questionnaire administered by the research assistant to public motorcycle operators. Quantitative data collected was analyzed using statistical package for social sciences version 23 and findings presented in frequency and percentage tables. The study adopted simple random sampling to select 165 respondents from a population of 550 bodaboda riders in 19 registered bodaboda groups of South Imenti sub county, Meru County. Research findings obtained revealed that Bodaboda flexibility and ability to maneuver compared to other modes of transport has led to its popularity in rural areas. It also emerged that bodaboda has contributed to positive economic effects in the rural areas which include direct employment as riders and indirect employment through emergence of support services like garages, spare part shops, petrol stations and shopping centres. It also emerged that bodaboda has resulted to increase in road accidents and health complications to riders who rarely go for medical check-ups. Based on the findings of the study, the study concluded that bodaboda business has contributed to the health and economic status of the rural areas and its flexibility in operations has contributed to its popularity. The study recommends a multisectoral approach to streamline and make bodaboda business sustainable because of its socioeconomic contributions to the rural areas. It is significant to note that potential investors, such as insurance companies and financial institutions, will be among the key beneficiaries in knowing the investment opportunities in the bodaboda sector. Riders and bodaboda users will greatly benefit from the study by entrenching best practices that will enhance safety and wellbeing of them and that of other road users.