Drug abuse among young people is increasingly becoming a crisis in Kenya. For Peter Mugo and Eustus Mureithi, fighting this menace needs more than policy intervention.
The duo has been using cycling to fight the vice among students at Murang’a University and youths living around Murang’a town.
After realising that the students were spending their free time indulging in alcoholism and taking drugs, the two came up with the idea of introducing cycling to help them pass time.
This gave birth to the city bikes, which has been instrumental in keeping youth busy. Mugo and Mureithi have been lending out bikes to the students. They charge a minimal fee of a shilling per minute.
To curb theft, the student has to produce their school identity card and leave it with them until they return the bike.
Initially, they had seven bikes and out of the money they got from the students, they have increased the number to 23.
Mureithi, a graduate of bachelor of business management, says he knows the challenges the students go through and especially when they engage in drug abuse in school.
“It is easy for one to get into drug abuse, but getting out of it is hard and thus the best way is to prevent the young people from getting into the trap,” he says.
After introducing the idea to a few students, they took it positively and brought on board their colleagues who were also excited about it.
He says the students scramble for the bikes after classes and they go for road trips around the town. Besides keeping them busy, cycling is also a tool of exercise, which helps them keep fit.
“Evening time, which the students would spend wandering around, has been turned into a constructive mission,” says Mureithi. This has drastically reduced the level of drug abuse among the students and other young people who live in this area.
Mugo, who has a mechanic training background, repairs the bikes when they get a puncture and also sensitises the riders on safety measures.
He says this is a venture he cannot regret joining as it has been rewarding economically on one hand and on the other created a positive social impact.
Mugo says they organise long distance cycling trips for the students, especially during holiday and over the weekend.
He says they have a vision to expand their project to other counties to reach out to as many youths as possible and cushion them from engaging in the menace.
George Njugia, a student at the university, has been cycling for the past one year and this has become part of his life in school as it keeps him busy when he is not in class.
Njugia says they have formed a cycling club with intent to engage as many students as possible to keep them off drugs.
The members are passionate about cycling and they organise cycling competitions to motivate each other.
“When Mugo and Mureithi introduced the idea of cycling to us, we could not have embraced a better idea to aid in the fight against drug abuse in our institution. Most of us can’t wait to finish our lessons so that we can go for cycling. It is such perfect activity to kill time,” says Njugia.
The students also engage in other activities such as skating and swimming as part of their leisure activities.