Battle for the ‘hustler’ vote as Raila hosts boda riders

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021 00:00 |
ODM leader Raila Odinga is dressed in a reflector jacket by a section of boda boda riders at Chungwa House in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

A battle for small business holders, otherwise dubbed hustlers; is raging with presidential candidates seeking their support ahead of the 2022 General-Election.

In recent months, Deputy President William Ruto has styled himself the Hustler and in his presidential campaign, he is reaching out to the hustler lot who struggle to get ahead.

The DP has built a reputation as a donor during fundraisers, making him one of the most sought-after guests of honour.

Ruto donates money and tools to help hustlers start a business and overcome Covid-19 hardships.

In what seems to be a tactful raid on the hustler nation, ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday hosted a group of Nairobi boda boda courier handlers, as he seeks to consolidate support in a key voter constituency that his political nemesis Ruto arguably has a huge following.

Strong partnership

In a meeting held at Chungwa House, Lavington Nairobi, Raila told the boda boda riders to back his 2022 presidential bid as he has the solution to the problem hailing the boda boda industry.

While underscoring the need of the political class to build strong partnership with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), Raila said he stood a better chance to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta owing his rich history of Kenya’s economic problem and solutions thereof.

“We have a comprehensive plan to address the plight of suffering hustlers, not piecemeal solutions being propagated by some persons who want to use you to ascend to power,’ Raila  said.

He said countries that have developed and grown their economy are those that have invested and supported SMEs.

“That is why you see me giving an example of Toyota; a bicycle mechanic , who graduated to be a motorbike mechanic and rose to be the manufacturer of Toyota car brands, which is a global name,” Raila said.

“Everything starts at the bottom of the pyramid, a boda boda rider just like Toyota can be helped to realise full potential to greater heights, so that he can catch up with the big boys at the top,” he added.

Raila was reacting to a petition presented to him to address various issues facing operations of boda boda riders at the Central Business District including access to capital, harassment and extortion by law enforcements, non-existence parking lots,  no designated operational areas  and lack of favourable insurance products for SMEs among other challenges.

The riders asked Raila to assist them to acquire a van to enable them deliver their services in large scale.

They also pushed for legislation to have insurance institutions to offer tailor made products for SMEs like boda boda industry.

To address rampant insecurity incidents among riders, they proposed to the government to have a database for all boda boda riders.

“This will help the government in collection of taxes,” they said in the petition.

Raila said the issues raised in the petition were pertinent.

“These are realities that you face on each single day, we must have a solution to them now not later,” he said even as he insisted that BBI which was halted by the appellate court had a solution to some issues facing the SMEs.

Present at the meeting were Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati, ODM Secretary Edwin Sifuna and the party’s Executive Director Oduor Ong’wen. 

Sifuna warned the riders against being hoodwinked by money but to think about where they want Kenya to be, in the next 20 years.

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