Examining the importance of bicycle parking facility towards the reduction of theft of bicycle in Karonga.Statement of ProblemKaronga district is one of the districts in Malawi where many people do rely on bicycles as their mode of transport.
In Karonga, mainly around Karonga main market, more than four thousand registered bicycles are used as taxi (Chairman of cargo). Other people do operate bicycle rental business where people who have not bicycles do hire. Many other people have their own bicycles that they use for different purposes. Such influx of these bicycles has reduced the transportation problem in Karonga district and other places where bicycles are commonly used like Salima, Dwangwa, Mangochi, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Liwonde and Balaka. The abundant availability of bicycles mainly in Karonga contributed to problem of theft of bicycle. Many bicycles have been stolen since the introduction of bicycle taxi business and when the sports bicycles made in Japan commonly called Kamoongo started appearing in large numbers in Karonga. According to the Karonga police station records concerning the theft of bicycles, have shown that there have been rapid thefts of bicycles around Karonga new market and Karonga district hospitals due to large availability of these bicycles.
In 2007, Mr Gwebe a businessperson introduced a bicycle parking facility at Karonga new market where people were putting their bicycle for safekeeping at a cost of K10 per bicycle for the whole day. This initiative reduced the congestion of bicycles in Karonga main market since all bicycles were parked outside of the market. At first, this business was not progressing well since people were not patronizing these facilities as expected due to the unwillingness to pay the money charged. As time went by the number of bicycles begun to increase in Karonga a thing that prompted the cases of theft to increase as well. Seeing the high demand of people who wanted to have their bicycles kept at the parking facility, preventing bicycles from being stolen, other business people emulated what Mr Gwebe initiated by established other bicycle parking facilities around Karonga new market, Karonga district hospital and even at Karonga stadium.
This business though appears to be profitable to the owners who operate it because they make more money, but on other hand, it also helps to protect the bicycles from being stolen hence reducing the cases of theft of bicycles. Among all the ways of protecting the bicycles, bicycle-parking facility has proven to be more effective and reliable. This method is well informed, empowered, and has motivated guardians such as security guards or other people with an ownership claim to the facility may provide effective guardianship. A report suggests that over a 1-year period, no one has stolen a cycle from the facility in Sint-Niklass, Belgium (van Limbergen, Walgrave, and Dekegel, 1996).
Such method is currently practiced in Karonga. Therefore, this study aims to assess the effectiveness of bicycles parking facilities towards the reduction of theft of bicycles in Karonga district. This study will focus the five years before the bicycle parking facilility was introduced against the five years after they have been introduced.