Following months of spiraling cases of mugging in Thika, Kiambu County, the government has ordered all motorcycles within the busy town to be fitted with digital number plates to help distinguish between real motorcyclists and those camouflaging as riders but are criminals.
The high-tech number plates will have among other things anti-counterfeit features including holograms, watermarks, and laser markers which will help police to trace information on the owners of the motorcycles, their areas of operation, and their eligibility to curtail crimes associated with the riders.
Thika Deputy County Commissioner Mbogo Mathioya said the move will see the government regulate the motorcycle transport sector which has become a popular and entrenched means of transport in the area even as it is inadequately controlled thereby giving incentives for recklessness and impunity among operators.
“We have given all the riders one week to ensure that they get the QR codes which we will use to identify owners of motorcycles found aiding and abetting the crime of stealing from Kenyans. This is one among many measures we have set aside to arrest the growing mugging incidents,” he said.
Speaking when he met boda boda riders’ chairpersons from the sub-county, Mathioya ordered the bodaboda operators to exercise private arrest of anyone found mugging and later hand over the suspects to the police for processing.
The development happened days after police unearthed a mobile phone theft syndicate that has been terrorizing residents.
Last week, Kiambu County police commander Ali Nuno revealed that sleuths arrested seven suspects who are believed to be behind the mobile phones theft syndicate in Thika town.
The seven were arrested by an anti-mugging squad made up of officers drawn from the sub-county after they allegedly snatched several phones from members of the public while using motorbikes as escape automobiles.
Four smartphones, a personal car, and a motorcycle the suspects are reported to have been using to aid in their crime operations were also impounded in Kiandutu slums.
John Mugendi, the Thika township bodaboda rider’s chairperson said they will collaborate with the government to flash out criminals who have been camouflaging as boda boda operators.
At the same time, Mugendi said they have reached out to companies offering private motorbikes on credit to ensure that those loaned have registered them with the local administration before use for proper identification.
“Riders will be required to produce their national identification card photocopies and passports which will be incorporated with the QR codes. We have also created a team of supervisors in every station to help us get these criminals out of business,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by riders who lauded the initiative to introduce computerized number plates as one that will exonerate them from crimes executed by persons acting as motorcyclists.
According to National Crime Research Centre, motorbike riders have over the years been blamed for increased cases of robberies; causing death by dangerous riding; breach of public order; committing murder; kidnapping and abduction; possession and usage of dangerous drugs; rape and defilement; smuggling of illegal firearms and contrabands in Kenya.