Swala Nyeti Managing Editor Mac Otani sat down with Peter Wanjie, a boda boda rider from Ngong town in Kajiado County, on how a training offered to motorcycle operators by Mastercard Foundation and Africa Lion Advisory (ALA) from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed their lives.

Mac Otani: What has your experience with your business been like during the pandemic?

Peter Wanjie: Like many businesses during the pandemic, my business as a Boda Boda operator was negatively impacted. With movement restrictions, curfews and limited movement of people and goods, our source of livelihood was threatened.

MO: What challenges did you and other Boda Boda operators face when the pandemic first started?

PW: We faced a number of challenges; with the primary ones being that most businesses either stopped operating or were operating from home. That meant that we could not carry our usual passengers and also that we could not do as many deliveries as before. Our working hours and reach was also greatly limited since some of us work at night and across counties.

MO: How has the training by Africa Lion Advisory (ALA) and Mastercard Foundation helped you during the pandemic?

PW: The training by ALA in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation has really helped me a lot during this pandemic. It has given me correct information about the virus and also equipped me with both knowledge and merchandise that helps me to stay safe. This helps me to protect myself, my family and my customers as well as enable me to continue making a living while staying self. We have also observed positive feedback and change of perceptions from our clients that came with the increased level of compliance and precautions with extended benefits to our clients, contacts, families and the community.

MO: How has your relationship with your customers changed after the ALA/Mastercard training?

PW: Honestly, it has changed for the better. By seeing that I'm taking all the necessary precautions to keep safe, they have more confidence in my business and their safety, and this results in a lot of referrals which means more business for me. And for this, I am grateful.

MO: What impact has the training and awareness created by the programme on your passengers and the entire community?

PW: The impact and awareness created by the training by ALA and Mastercard Foundation has been really positive as now the people I interact with are keener in observing the various covid protocols such as wearing their masks properly, maintaining physical distance as well as frequently washing their hands/using sanitisers. I also feel part of a bigger community of trained Boda Boda Operators whenever I see my fello Boda Boda Operators with the Awareness Creating Merchandise from the Campaign.

MO: What advice would you give your fellow boda boda operators on safety and security as well as improving on their business?

PW: What I'd advise them is that they continue observing covid protocols and keep the conversation going. Indeed, it is up to US.

MO: What future do you see for the boda boda industry in Kenya and what more can be done to improve the sector?

PW: Since we play quite an important role in Kenya's economy, I envision a future where we operate in a more conducive environment.

MO: Do you think boda boda operators are misunderstood by many Kenyans?

PW: To some extent yes. However, I believe it is each operator's responsibility to individually try and change the perceptions, especially the negative ones by being professional, honest and courteous.

MO: What would you love to tell Kenyans who look down on boda boda operators?

PW: That they shouldn't as we are out here to make a living just like they are.