Lamu county government affirms its ban on boda boda’s in Shela

Motorbikes of striking boda boda riders in Lamu,Boda Boda operators in Tana River have downed their tools to protest over what they term as harassment by police PHOTO NATASHA NEEMA

Lamu,KENYA:The county government of Lamu has asked all boda-boda operators in Lamu town to adhere to new directives requiring them to not only stay out the heritage town but also out of Shella Beach town as well.

Shella beach town is a tourist settlement with majority of its population consisting of local and foreign tourists who have bought lands and settlements.

The town is considered the major tourist settlement in the region and a few locals who can afford the high end life that’s attached to it.

A week ago,Lamu Tourism CEC Dismas Mwasambu announced that boda boda operators who shall be found operating inside the Lamu Old town will now be arrested and charged in a move aimed at protecting the Old town as a heritage site.

Lamu old town was listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site in 2001.

There has however been concerns over the rising trends of westernization in terms of architecture, dressing and trading that have attracted the concern of conservationists who feel the situation may result in the old town being delisted as a heritage site.

The most recent is the booming boda boda business that has been taking place right in the heart of the old town bringing to a confusing halt the only traditional means of transport allowed in the town that is donkeys.

Mwasambu said the boda bodas will only be allowed to operate on the outskirts of the old town and not all over as has previously been the norm.

However on Tuesday this week,boda boda operators in the town took to the streets to protest the move barring them from accessing and operating from inside the heritage town.

The operators brought businesses in the old town to standstill after they held demonstrations against the new directive saying its oppressive and meant to put them out of business.

They are now crying foul saying they have also been barred from Operating inside the Shella Beach town which located less than three kilometers away from the old town.

The new directive initially didn’t hinge on Shella since the town is further on the outskirts of the old town.

However while seeking to set the record straight on Friday,Mwasambu said the new directive now involves Shella beach town and as such the operators are not to set foot in the town.

Mwasambu explained that Shella town is among towns that receive the most number of tourists in the region and as such the county was also keen to ensure its also guarded.

He said all those who defy the orders shall be arrested.

“They shouldn’t say the new directive only applies to Lamu old town,even Shella has made it to that list.No motorcycles are to be found inside Shella town.They can however drop and pick people on the outskirts of the town just like with the Lamu old town,”said Mwasambu.

They are however allow-ed to venture into all villages on the outskirts of the two towns.

Lamu town currently holds at least 200 motorcycles.