The Contribution of Motorcycle Business to the Wellbeing of Operators in Kisumu County, Kenya
Owuor, Euphracia Adhiambo
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Motorcycle ownership and use in developing countries has increased dramatically over the past few decades. In many countries, the motorcycle business serves as a source of livelihood to many people and riders look up to it as a source of income for survival of their households. The pursuit for economic and social survival has made many young people and middle aged men get into a variety of jobs such as motorcycle operations. Thus this study aimed at investigating the contributions of motorcycle business to the wellbeing of operators in Kisumu County. In particular, the study sought to establish the socio-demographic characteristics of motorcycle operators, the contribution of motorcycle business to the socio-economic wellbeing of the operators, to determine its contribution to the community wellbeing, challenges experienced by the operators and to suggest ways of improving the wellbeing of motorcycle perators. The study was conducted in Nyakach Sub County among motorcycle business operators. It adopted a mixed method approach employing a descriptive survey research design. Motorcycle business operators were selected using stratified and simple random sampling while key informants were identified using purposive sampling technique. There were 122 respondents sampled for the study in total. To get information from the motorcycle operators, semi-structured interview schedules were used while for the key informants, interview guides were used. Focus group discussion guides were also used to gather qualitative data from the motorcycle operators. The information collected were coded, cleaned and analyzed by use of frequency counts, percentages, mean, and mode whereas thematic analysis was used for qualitative data. The findings revealed that the motorcycle business in Nyakach Sub-County was dominated by the youth with those below 35 years of age totaling to 69.6 percent. (96.7 percent) of motorcycle operators were male, with females at 3.3 percent. Most (56.6 percent) of the motorcycle operators had attained secondary education, 39.3 percent had attained primary education and below, and 4.1percent had tertiary education. Majority (54.9 percent) of the motorcycle operators did not own motorcycles, while 45.1 percent owned the motorcycles they operated. Majority (89.3 percent) of the motorcycle operators reported that the motorcycle business had made them socially and economically better, while 10.7 percent were not sure. The motorcycle business provided the operators with a source of income that enabled them meet their daily subsistence needs. They also reported that through the business they were able to make invesments and educate their children. It also enabled them interact with different persons in the community. Moreover, the study showed that the motorcycle business had contributed to the community wellbeing in areas of transport, health, education and security. The study also highlighted some of the challenges facing the motorcycle operators including diseases, insecurity such as theft of motorbikes, difficulty accessing and paying loans, police harrassment, and some customers not paying which was least reported. Overall, the study revealed that the motorcycle business contributed to the wellbeing of the operators and that of the community. The study recommended a close working relationship between the security personnel and the industry to curb theft and ensure law enforcement. Other recommendations included sensitizations of industry operators on risk behaviours through the County’s Health Department as well as financial training. Moreover, the study also recommended sensitization of community members regarding the motorcycle industry and its benefit to the community. Future studies on the industry are likewise recommended due to the ever changing developments in the industry and the present day economy.