Impounded motorbikes

Impounded motorbikes at the Central Police Station in Nairobi on March 8, 2022 following a crackdown following on errant riders.

| Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

How man cheated death at hands of boda boda gangsters

What you need to know:

  • Dazed, Dennis Njoroge wondered how he became the subject of their fury when he was the victim.
  • He remembers seeing a silver glint heading towards his face, a thud and slowly consciousness slipped from him.

Dennis Njoroge* (not his real name) landed in a hospital unconscious and with a damaged left eye and nose bridge minutes after converting his per diem into Kenyan currency amounting to Sh86,000 to cover his expenses on a planned week-long work trip.

Had it not been for a Good Samaritan and the intervention of police officers, he believes his experience at the hands of rowdy boda boda riders in Nairobi would have been deadly.  

Mr Njoroge, who works for the African Union, had just left his office in Westlands on February 18 and was heading to Ruai to visit his sick sister. 

His work trip to Naivasha was to happen on February 21-26. He had deposited Sh50,000 of the converted cash in his M-Pesa account and kept the rest on him.

To avoid traffic on Thika Road, he decided to use the faster Kasarani-Mwiki-Njiru-Ruai route. That was a grave mistake. A road bump installed by locals in the Garage area of Kasarani was the jinx in his journey.

As he approached the bump and slowed down, a motorcycle rider ferrying two pillion passengers “appeared from nowhere” and hit the side of his car, scratching it from the boot to the driver’s door and ripping off the right side mirror before falling metres from the accident scene.

“I heard a loud boom! I stopped immediately and lowered my window to check what had hit me. That is when I saw a motorcycle with three people skidding off the road and heading towards a ditch. I was stunned,” Mr Njoroge told the Nation.

No sooner had he stopped than a mob of angry boda boda riders surrounded the vehicle. Too bad he had lowered his window. Torrents of blows landed on him, his car keys were pulled from the ignition. He did not even leave his seat; he had his seat belt on and was helpless, facing imminent death.

“You people (motorists) are used to hitting us. You despise and treat us with contempt. We must teach you a lesson,” he recalled the antsy riders shouting.

Dazed, he wondered how he became the subject of their fury when he was the victim – his car had been hit by the motorbike and not vice versa! 

He had no time to process his thoughts. He remembers seeing a silver glint heading towards his face, a thud and slowly consciousness slipped from him. Hands frisked his entire body, taking anything valuable they could find.

“I remember some voices saying they should find my phone. They did not. I usually put it in a hidden compartment in the dashboard. The last thing I saw was a blue-uniformed man (police officer) telling the riders to go away, opening my door and shouting that I be taken to hospital. That must be when I blacked out.” 

The criminals, masquerading as boda boda riders, made away with at least Sh38,000, his wallet, which had Sh2,000 and his notebooks.

He regained consciousness at St Francis Hospital. His forehead was wrapped in a white bandage. His left eyebrow had seven stitches and his nose bridge two. His cream shirt was crimson, soaked in blood. On his side, his Good Samaritan, Kevin, sat pensively on a seat, watching over the stranger who had just escaped death.

“Kevin not only took me to hospital, he waited until I was conscious and offered to take me to my home in Buru Buru. His kindness is unmatched. He cared when all the other motorists behind me just hooted angrily and passed while I was being mauled by the mob. Why are Kenyans so apathetic nowadays?”

He was discharged a few hours later. He left his bloodied shirt behind and drove himself home. But the worst was yet to come. His health was in serious jeopardy but he, just like everyone else, did not know it.

He was in for a rude shock when he asked about the welfare of the three people on the motorbike that had hit his car. The entire crash was a charade, a well-choreographed affair. 

His Good Samaritan, who had witnessed the crash from the other side of the road, narrated to him what transpired after he was knocked out.

“I was informed that the three people on the bike knew each other. The two passengers who fell off the bike rushed back to ransack my pockets, got the money, hopped onto the same bike and left!” he said. 

“When the police arrived seconds later, the other thugs beating me disappeared in the same direction as the “injured” people on the motorbike, most likely to share the spoils. This just revealed how daring the rogue riders operating in the city are.”

The trio was a gang. They knew each other, waited for their victim and swung into action.

“That was not an accident. They knew exactly when and where I would slow down. They knew what to do and executed their plan accordingly. I was a victim of a well-planned robbery. I saw death. It is a miracle I am alive,” he said.

From the hospital, he recorded a statement at 7.20pm at the Sunton Police Station under OB number 07/18/02/2022 but was “frustrated by the police”, he recalled. 

The police, instead of helping him, asked him to go to a cybercafé, download an abstract form, bring it back for signing and use the form to claim damages from his insurer because “boda boda riders hardly have insurance”. He was also advised to never stop if he is involved in an accident with a motorcycle again.

“They (police) asked me if I had seen the registration number of the motorbike that hit me and if I could identify the rider. How could I? I did not even have a chance to step out of my car. The goons were on standby. I don't even know what they look like. Those hitting me had helmets on!”

He wondered why the police chased away the real suspects when they arrived at the scene without arresting even one of them.

Angrily, he left the station and went straight home. He never returned to the police station. He used his own money to fix his car.

At home, his wife stifled a scream when she saw him. He told her what had happened and assured her that he was fine. He rested on Saturday, and on Sunday, February 20, he left for Naivasha, finished his week-long seminar, returned home, rested on February 27 and reported to work on Monday. 

All was well, the swelling on his face had receded, but he suffered bouts of splitting headaches. On Tuesday, he blacked out in his office.

“I was rushed to Aga Khan Hospital. They did a scan and that is when they discovered that the object used to cut me caused a severe wound that fractured my skull and a blood clot had formed,” Mr Njoroge said.

Unknown to him, the growing blood clot kept pushing at his brain, causing the terrible headaches and ultimately leading to his passing out in the office.

He was immediately admitted to the High Dependency Unit, staying there from Tuesday until Thursday, when he was transferred to the general ward and was ultimately discharged on Friday, March 4.

For his four-day stay at hospital, he incurred a bill of Sh327,026. His assailants are still on the loose, and most likely hunting for more innocent motorists.

Following the incident, Mr Njoroge called his nephew, for whom he had bought a motorcycle, and told him he would repossess and sell it and help him start a different business. The boda boda business can corrode the morals of young people. What baffles Mr Njoroge is the attitude that motorcycle riders have towards car owners.

“What is this bitterness that boda boda riders have for motorists? I wake up at 4:30am every day to go to work and eat from my sweat. I have never worked for the government, so they cannot say that I stole from the public coffers,” he said.

“I do not sell motorcycles so that I could extort them. I do not understand why they did what they did. If I was wrong, my car has insurance, the victims would have been paid,” he said.

He urged the government to rein in the sector, warning that Kenyans may one day retaliate and the results would be regrettable.

“Something must be done. The government must restore sanity in the public transport system. We cannot have boda boda riders being a law unto themselves. Now if the President, the Ministry of Transport, and the police cannot tame them, who will?”