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MOTORCYCLE (BODA BODA) REGULATIONS IN E.AFRICA

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba

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In the US and Britain, motorcycle traffic regulations are followed strictly, compared to laxity and reckless riding witnessed in Kenya. Although the minimum age for motorcyclists is as low as 13 years in New Mexico and 14 in California, the strict rules ensure the safety of riders and their passengers. The erratic change of lanes by Kenyan motorcyclists is unheard of in the US, since most highways have special lanes for motorbikes. A crash helmet with an approved design is a must for all riders and passengers. One could be charged in a court of law for not wearing a helmet. Motorcyclists in the US are also required to wear reflector jackets and use headlights at all times to ensure safety. Closer home, in countries such as Uganda and Nigeria where motorcycles have in operation for a longer time, the rules are more rigid and the governments have invested heavily in the industry. For instance, in Nigeria, motorcycle riders are restricted on where and when they can conduct businesses. In Uganda, a special traffic squad, "motorcycle squad", police the industry, and is said to rake in millions of shillings annually. Job opportunities When former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya zero-rated duty on motorcycles below 250cc, the two-wheels rides flooded the market. This was hailed as a good move to create employment, especially for thousands of unemployed youths. But the issue of insurance has been tricky. The motorcycles are not licensed as Public Service Vehicles (PSVs), hence many underwriters are unwilling to tread the dangerous path of insuring the motorcycles. The high frequency of accidents involving the bikes also makes the insurers jittery. However, cyclists in the US and the UK, are insured just like the other motorists. The cost of insurance depends on age (riders under the age of 25 pay more), the type and capacity of the motorcycle, and the length of time a rider has held a licence.

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