Boda boda riders sue Ruto’s UDA for misusing them during 2022 campaigns

By , K24 Digital
On Fri, 5 Jan, 2024 12:10 | 3 mins read
President William Ruto speaking at a past event.
President William Ruto speaking at a past event. PHOTO/Joseph Kanyi

Boda boda riders have moved to court seeking Ksh426 billion as compensation from President William Ruto's administration for misusing them and mama mbogas during the 2022 campaign period. 

A petition filed at the Milimani High Court by a section of boda boda operators from Malindi, Linda Jamii lobby group, and four others seeks orders restraining the Kenya Kwanza government and all members of the President Ruto-led United Democratic Alliance (UDA) from further use of boda boda and mama mboga slogans, alleging betrayal resulting in psychological trauma.

The riders contend that President Ruto's administration allegedly took advantage of the boda boda riders and mama mbogas brand during the campaign period and have since betrayed them by leaving them out of government plans.

"The Kenya Kwanza government has since the conclusion of the August 9, 2022, general elections peddled the narrative that the strictures of the current political government are comprised of boda boda riders and women, while in fact, the same is utterly false and untrue," the petitioners state in their court papers.

According to the riders, the government's assertion that small-scale businesses are aligned with the regime has led to a decrease in their income, as they face heightened hostility from Kenyans expressing dissatisfaction with the current administration.

"The utterances of the members of the UDA Party that the current executive arm of the government of Kenya is composed of the boda boda and mama mboga women subject the persons engaged in boda boda and mama mboga business to psychological trauma owing to the reduction in their source of income and hostility of the people of Kenya who are dissatisfied with the government’s inability to bring down the cost of living,” the petition reads.

President William Ruto at a past event. PHOTO/(@WilliamRuto)X

They claim that as a result of the impugned utterances by politicians from the UDA party, the people engaged in boda boda and mama mboga businesses' ability to earn a living suffer massive financial losses, irreparable harm to their goodwill and business signature.

"The utterances by the members of the UDA Party have resulted in stigmatization of the persons engaged in the boda boda people and have caused unprecedented mental anguish and torture in contravention of Article 29(d) of the Constitution," the riders say.

Additionally, the operators highlight a substantial 32% loss, equivalent to Ksh426 billion, in sector earnings due to the ongoing use of certain terms by the government.

Through lawyer Fredrick Ogola, the petitioners argued that the amount was additionally minimal compared to the boda boda sector’s contribution to the economy and also considering that President Ruto’s administration has failed to live up to his promises.

He highlighted that President Ruto benefited largely by using the boda boda rider and mama mboga brands to win the 2022 general election and gain popularity among the hustlers.

Ogola stated, "Boda boda and mama mboga contribute about 80 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Boda Boda alone contributes Ksh1 billion every year to the economy.”

Demands against Ruto and UDA

Consequently, the petitioners demanded the court issue a temporary injunction on the names, barring politicians from using them until the case is heard and determined.

Further, they want the court to compel all politicians to refrain from using the boda boda riders and mama mbogas in their speeches to produce consent from the involved parties.

"The court do issue a permanent order of injunction restraining the members of UDA, their agents, servants, employees, or anyone claiming under them from making utterances that associate, liken, or suggest that the people earning a living from the boda boda and mama mboga businesses in the Republic of Kenya comprise the Executive Arm of the Government of Kenya," they sought.

The petition is pending a hearing.