Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga yesterday promised to reform the police service to stop the harassment of boda boda operators.
Separately, Mr Odinga courted the women’s vote as he promised gender inclusion in his government if he is elected president.
“Gender emancipation is not a feminine issue but a human rights issue,” said Mr Odinga when he met the Muslim Women for Azimio lobby group.
Mr Odinga asked the boda boda riders, a key group that has formed the basis of his rival Deputy President William Ruto’s campaign mantra, to back his bid in the August 9 elections.
The former prime minister dangled several pledges to the sector as part of his efforts to woo the group. Speaking during a meeting with the operators drawn from the Boda Boda Safety Association of Kenya at Nyayo Stadium yesterday, Mr Odinga said that he will in the first 100 days ensure that interest on loans advanced to the operators is lowered.
The ODM party leader further said his administration, together with his running mate Martha Karua, will initiate far-reaching reforms in a bid to bring dignity and respect to the sector.
“You are providing essential services to the people and must be treated with respect,” he said.
Mr Odinga said that Azimio’s manifesto has put a premium on youth empowerment as part of the economic liberation that his government will bring.
He argued that all problems Kenyans go through are because of corruption and this is why they will focus on fighting graft in the country.
Through their chairman Mr Kevin Mubadi, the boda boda operators complained of exorbitant interests on loans to purchase motorbikes, extortion and harassment from City Hall.
“We are ready to reform but the askaris and the county government don’t want us to. They extort from us between Sh2,000 and Sh5,000 daily and also impound our motorbikes with the help of the police,” said Mr Mubadi.
In response, the Azimio leader said that some rogue police officers are yet to embrace being a service and still perpetuate the colonial mentality of being hostile to people.
Mr Edwin Sifuna, NMS boss Mohammed Badi and Mr Junet Mohamed said they will try to talk to the government to have the impounded motorbikes released.
In his meeting with Muslim women, Mr Odinga trained his guns on Dr Ruto, saying that no religious faction should seek protection from the Head of State since freedom of worship is guaranteed in the constitution.
The Azimio flag bearer said that his administration will not only promote the freedom of worship, but also eliminate all forms of discrimination.
In a thinly veiled attack on Dr Ruto, Mr Odinga said that the constitution that guarantees the creation of the Kadhis court, was opposed by his opponents.
On their part the Muslim women requested Mr Odinga to ensure that there is inclusion of Muslim women in the next government.
“We request for 10 per cent Muslim women inclusion in forming the next government,” said Muslim Women’s Network Chair Amina Hirsi.