The growing demand for boda bodas has attracted Asian motorcycle dealers into Western Kenya.
Dealers of Yamaha, Honda, Bajaj, Kingbird, Lifan, TVS brands have set shop in Kakamega, Busia and Kisumu, seeking to increase sales in the towns where residents mainly rely on boda bodas for transport.
Statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that 125,058 motorcycles were sold last year compared to 93,970 units the previous year, as demand rises.
Honda, which is the latest entrant in the region, opened an assembly and service plant in Kisumu last month with plans to stock new motorbikes and spare parts.
Honda representative to Kenya Shansuke Miyazaki said the region is ripe for investment, adding that the Kisumu assembly and service plant will also serve as a service station for other brands of motorcycles, saving transporters extra costs of going to other towns for service.
Mr Miyazaki said the Kisumu centre will also ensure customers buy genuine and high quality motorcycles from the dealer.
“We have put into considerations the safety of our customers by ensuring that the end products are worth the value of money paid,” said Mr Miyazaki. Piaggio, dealing in tuk tuks, also recently unveiled a petrol and diesel-powered new model targeting the western Kenyan market.
However, the biggest competitor in the region is Yamaha, a franchise of Toyota, that has launched new designs, targeting boda boda operators.
The company introduced the Crux 100 cc model motorcycle, targeting 100,000 riders in the region.
It has unveiled a financing plan that eases the burden of having to make one-off payments during purchase. “In as much as there is business in the transport using motorbike, most riders within the target cannot meet the reduced cost in one shot,” the Yamaha regional manager Lorraine Othieno said.
The general manager of Tsusho Capital Kenya Beatrice Ndung’u said Yamaha seeks to have more than 10,000 riders turned into owners of motorbikes as way of sustaining the already created employment opportunities.
“Yamaha is currently conducting a finance scheme; we don’t want riders to lose jobs even at the end of their contracts with their current employers,” Ms Ndung’u said.
The financing scheme has enabled more people buy motorcycles whose price has risen to between Sh89,000 and Sh103,000.
About 80 per cent of Kenyan roads are not tarmacked and unemployed youths have taken advantage of the poor road networks and lack of vehicles to earn their daily bread by transporting people and goods using boda bodas.