Bodaboda transport: a death-trap in the city

Bodaboda

Both legs flung on the extreme sides of the spring metallic bed; with multiple fractured bones, strapped with a white bandage, 27-year-old Sarah Mirembe(not real names) lay motionless in Mulago hospital’s orthopaedic ward. Her teary eyes are clearly reflective of the events before this current predicament. Another shattered dream by the

Both legs flung on the extreme sides of the spring metallic bed; with multiple fractured bones, strapped with a white bandage, 27-year-old Sarah Mirembe(not real names) lay motionless in Mulago hospital’s orthopaedic ward. Her teary eyes are clearly reflective of the events before this current predicament. Another shattered dream by the bodaboda menace in Kampala city follows below.

 

On the fateful Thursday morning at 7.30 am, Mirembe glanced at her watch and instantly got anxious. She had exactly thirty minutes to get to her job interview for a life changing opportunity in a highly rated agency. Mirembe had over the course of two years suffered the deep pangs of unemployment. Only this time were odds stuck in her favour as the prospect to leapfrog her competitors to the best position was unbelievably within margin. She could not afford to miss this chance or risk late arrival for the interviews.

 

Quick thinking made her call Jackson Wagubi her usual bodaboda cyclist. Wagubi urgently picked her up with express instruction to deliver her to the interview point within fifteen minutes. Aware about his master’s urgent need, he dutifully jumped on the bike and off they sped. In full flight, Wagubi navigated recklessly past speeding vehicles missing an advancing matatu by a whisker, only to ram into an advancing truck on the opposite side of the road. On impact, both passenger and rider went flying off the bike before hitting the ground with a big thud fracturing multiple bones. Mirembe passed out only to wake up in Mulago hospital after being in a comma for several days. That is fast becoming familiar with many Kampala dwellers with some not lucky enough to survive to tell their story.

 

Description: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\Boda wreckage.jpgDescription: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\boda-accident.jpgBodaBoda accident scenes (Photos courtesy of Daily Monitor and www.msongo.blogspot.com)

 

Bodabodas began in the 1950s as people crossed the border between Uganda (Busia) and Kenya by use of bicycles or motorcycle couriers. It was mostly to dodge customs officials or beat the fatigue of walking through the various checkpoints of the two countries’ borders thus the name bodaboda.  The bicycle owners would shout out bodaboda (border-to-border) to signify the distance to their potential customers. The bodaboda business has over time become very popular in Kampala with many players joining because of its flourishing returns. Several youths have turned to the business as a way of getting out of unemployment and many have been successful.

In Uganda today, there is an estimated 200,000 bodabodas in Kampala alone. Most of these are owned by renowned property moguls around town. The average net income of a town based bodaboda cyclist is between 10,000 to 20,000 shillings per day. In a month they could make up to 600,000 shillings or more in net income. The bodaboda industry is regulated by the Ministry of Works and Transport which is responsible for designing policy plans with appropriate standards to oversee, monitor and evaluate the performance of the transport sector.

As new cars are put on the road daily, traffic has become increasingly pathetic especially during rush hours. The bodaboda business has become a favorite means of many motorists in such situations because of their maneuverability but a menace to many others. The Ministry of Works and Transport is cognizant of this increasing burden and therefore is putting in place measures to alleviate this problem.

In an interview at the Transport Ministry head office in October 2015 The Minister of State for Transport Dr. Stephen Chebrot, says that the ministry has designed a 15 year master plan which if fully implemented will mitigate Kampala’s bodaboda problem among many other challenges in the city like congestion and traffic jams. “The master plan came out of a study commissioned by the ministry on the strategy for transportation development in the country,” hesaid.

According to Cypriano Okello, a transport economist with the Ministry of Works and Transport, the ministry through its statutory bodies like the Transport Licensing Board (TLB) and National Road Safety Council (NRSC) is carrying out regular inspection and licensing of bodaboda operators, testing of bodaboda riders to acquire riders’ group A permits, sensitization of the operators and general public through the media and workshops among others.

The Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association, was a body licensed by Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) to manage public transport in Kampala since the collapse of the state-run Uganda Transport Company (UTC) buses in the late 1980s. However, on expiry of the license, KCCA reclaimed the role of management of bodaboda cyclists. Hajji Ssettumba Umar, the Secretary General of the National Union of Drivers, Cyclists, and Allied Workers (NUDCAW) nevertheless is critical of this measure taken by KCCA.  “There is no need for KCCA to take over the transport sector in Kampala as we are obliged to do regulation. It eases the work of the government when the operators can organize themselves and the supervisory role remains with KCCA,” he notes.

KCCA’s plan is to create an organised city and streamline the transport sector in Kampala. Peter Kaujju, the Public Relations Manager of KCCA in a telephone interview conducted in October 2015 argues that ‘bodaboda cyclists need to learn how to respect other motorists and pedestrians on the road, they seem to be extremely undisciplined on the road which inconveniences others”. KCCA begun implementing measures to manage bodaboda cyclists in the city and has successfully rolled out a registration exercise and realised registration of 64,000 motorcyclists with the majority of them coming from neighbouring towns and districts. “We are also working on a plan to gazette stages in the city with an aim of creating order. We have partnered with the BodaBoda Association and have started sensitisation programs to get them to follow regulation” Kaujju added.

Description: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\Children-packed-on-a-bodaboda-on-their-way-to-school.jpgDescription: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\dangers of boda bodas.jpgBodabodas overloaded with passengers and goods (Photos courtesy of New Vision and www.usalamaug.org)

 

Much as Hajji Ssettumba of NUDCAW agrees with KCCA to register bodabodas because it helps them get recognition by the government to support their future development plans, he is opposed to the idea of relocation of the bodabodas out of the city because it deprives them of business.

KCCA in its efforts to reduce high carnage by bodabodas in the city has hatched plans to reduce congestion by fully identifying all cyclists to make it easy to punish those who breach the law. “We want to reduce stages, create zones where bodabodas will be permitted and restricted, as well as institute labelling on motorcyclists, their helmets and reflector jackets for effectiveness,” Kaujju added.  Kaujju also noted that bodabodas exist to fill the transport gap, and KCCA is working to fully introduce buses, and reinstate trains. “We have been working on a feasibility study of cube cars that will have no option but to follow regulation so as to provide options for the public in the transport sector. We want to create an organised city, where people can comfortably ride, walk and drive. The journey of organising our transport sector has started, we are consistently trading that route,” Kaujju added.

In Mulago hospital, Ward 3C is the Accidents and Emergency (AE) ward. This particular ward is always flooded with victims of accidents majority of which result from bodabodas. The ward has even acquired a pseudo name of the “bodaboda ward.”

 

Description: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\Head injury.jpgDescription: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\Hospital.jpgBodaBoda accident victims at Mulago hospital (Photos courtesy of Daily Monitor)

According to Dr. Titus Beyeza, the head of the Orthopaedic Department at Mulago hospital, in an interview held at Mulago Hospital, he noted that 90% of patients admitted are accident victims, majority of which are bodaboda accidents. “The orthopaedic ward has run out of space to admit other orthopaedic cases as all the beds are filled up with the emergency bodaboda cases,” he laments.

 

An interview conducted at Mulago Hospital with Dr. Harriet Nabbanja, a consultant doctor on the ward revealed that “the ward today admits twice as many patients as its capacity can and thus many accident victims are treated from the hospital floor. Over 30 accident victims are received weekly resulting in high congestion in the ward”.

 

Dr. Baterana Byaruhanga, the Executive Director of Mulago National Referral hospital notes that the hospital incurs over 1.5 billion shillings on treating bodaboda patients every year. “When weighed against the annual budget allocation of about 2.4 billion shillings to the Directorate of Surgery, this translates to 62.5%.”

An online study by African Centre for Media Excellence(ACME) revealed that 114 out of the 143 respondents interviewed do not own or wear helmets when riding a bodaboda. AIP Foundation, an organization that provides life-saving traffic safety knowledge and skills to low and middle income countries with the goal of preventing road traffic deaths and injuries shares a similar trend of statistics that only 49% of bodaboda riders in Kampala use helmets, while less than 1% of passengers use them.

The Uganda Police indeed acknowledge the risks created to passengers and pedestrians as a result of the bodaboda cyclists.  Steven Kasiima, the Commissioner of Police in charge of traffic and road safety traffic in an interview at his Police headquartersalludes to the need to regulate the bodaboda business to reduce its devastating threats to human life in the city.  He singles out ignorance of the law and lack of training as one of the key reasons why bodabodas have become a menace in the city.  “It is difficult to manage the bodaboda cyclists operating in the city because they are many in number. The majority are ignorant about the road safety rules and regulations. There are times when I have stopped some of the cyclists riding without helmets. When I ask them why they are not wearing the head safety device, they respond that they find no use for it,” retorts Kasiima.

.

Description: https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQoeyA02GdpsJ_r2EPfxmalqpopA5dmtOlgwmsfJ2CL2lGERbPtVQBodaboda rider and passengers without helmets (Photo courtesy of google)

Police have thus moved to make it mandatory for all bodaboda cyclists in Kampala to have professional skills of traffic and safety as well as a requirement of a rider’s permit before being allowed to ferry passengers.

Norman Musinga, the Kampala Regional Traffic Police Commander while addressing the weekly press briefs at his office said that most of the bodaboda riders lack the public service vehicle license and motor third party and permits. “Much as these bodabodas are handy to transport people around Kampala and reduce congestion, they have overwhelmingly contributed to accidents and deaths of people around the city,” Musinga retorted.  The 2014 annual traffic report showed that a total of 1,762 serious accidents involving motorbikes occurred in the capital city during that year.

He notes that cyclists are being sensitized against the failure to respect traffic lights, riding on shoulders and pedestrian walkways, drunkenness, loading more than one passenger, failure to wear helmets and aiding criminals.  “Effective June this year, all bodaboda cyclists are expected to have either the class A driving permit or learners’ permit,” Musinga announced. These drastic steps by Police are expected to reduce accidents and the number of impounded bodabodas that are rotting away at different Police stations after owners’ failure to adduce supporting documents to show ownership.

 

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) the body that ensures that all motorcycles that come into the country are registered has introduced a new online registration process for motorcycles to enhance identification and better compliance to the law governing their usage.  URA Commissioner for Domestic Taxes, Henry Saka in a telephone interview reveals that with the online registration, it will be easier to trace the bodaboda owner and reprimand the errant rider he or she employs.

 

In Uganda, there are about 35 motorcycle suppliers. According to Esther Nakanwagi, the sales manager at Simba Automobiles in Ndeeba, a Kampala suburb, most motorcycles are imported from India. Nakanwagi confessed that the number of motorcycles sold a year range from 250 to 300. These she adds are mostly paid in instalments. “We have given out a number of motorcycles to willing riders, and they pay the money in instalments,” she reveals.

Other traders like the General Manager of Yuvraj International, YowasiMufere, admits that motorcycles are so many in Kampala that they have had an adverse impact on the transport network. He says that much as the supplying companies aim to make profits, they should also contribute to the well-being of the transport system in Kampala.   “The Company employs a specialist to give a three day session on road use and safety tips training to all customers who go to buy motorcycles,” says Mufere.

George Kibwita, the Sales Manager Yamaha shares a similar view that the motorcycles give good business although the company suffers criticism from the community for supplying what many people call “a problem to the country”.  One employee at Yamaha who preferred anonymity confessed that in one of their corporate social responsibility activities, they visited bodaboda accident victims at Mulago Hospital, but all they received were insults. He recalls one patient shouting, “Don’t pretend you care for me a lot. Are you not the people selling these monsters which almost finished my life?”

One frequent user Samuel Matovu however admits that bodabodas are convenient and affordable despite risks of possible accidents and high costs associated with their usage. “They are faster means to beat jam easily,” acknowledges Matovu.

Mary Ssebirumbi, a student at Makerere University, has resorted to bodabodas often to catch up with lectures in time. She also adds that she likes motorcycles for purposes of “privacy”.

According to the Injury Control Centre, Uganda, Mulago Hospital alone receives 5 to 20 bodaboda accident cases every day, resulting to 7,280 cases in year. The same report shows that passenger fatalities as a result of road traffic accidents increased from 3,951 in 2008 to 5,145 in 2013.

 

Motorists interviewed in the streets of Kampala hold the view that bodabodas have become a nuisance in the city. “The bodabodas lack respect for other road users and the road signs,” says Rashid Majid, who has been driving in Kampala since 1990.

When this paper interviewed Fred Kayondo, a bodaboda cyclist at Jubilee stage adjacent to Muganzirwazza mall, he disclosed the risks he has encountered since 2009. “I have survived many accidents especially involving a commuter taxi on Namirembe road,” he notes. Moses Kiberu another bodaboda cyclist near the Old Taxi Park agrees that the bodaboda business is risky and if provided with an alternative would switch to another trade.  “BodaBodas will eventually be phased out in the central business district, to the exception of a few gazetted stages” Chebrot stated.

All is not lost for the industry if efforts are put in place to ensure riders conform to the traffic regulation. Rwanda has fast become an icon in transport management and organization. Uganda may need to bench mark on their best practices to bring this chaotic transport business to sanity.

According to literature obtained from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), they are 18 cooperatives that work hand in hand with traffic police to enforce discipline and law. These cooperatives also act as saving schemes for the people. These are charged with the responsibility to ensure road users dutifully follow traffic signs even in the absence of a traffic officer.  For a cyclist to start riding in the city of Kigali, they must be registered.  Rider and passenger have to wear helmets with identification and mobile phone numbers engraved on them to enable regulators track the errant cyclists.

An official from the Rwanda Development Board and Chairman of the BodaBoda Association, Eugene Rutagarama, in the New Times paper based in Kigali gave a report in November 2005 acknowledging that Bodabodas have designated stages. “Cyclists are trained and given permits to reduce on accidents on the road. Traffic lights are also obeyed by cyclists; they stop and move on the flow of vehicles, they don’t ride on pavements,” he stated.

A concerted effort is required from all transport sector stakeholders to institute stringent regulations for bodabodas to follow. The adverse impact of bodabodas to people’s lives and the transport sector has not gone unnoticed despite high demand by all walks of people in the city. Uganda has a lot to learn from Rwanda in the manner it has managed bodabodas and needs to benchmark effective policies that have worked there.

bodaboda menace in Kampala city follows below.

 

On the fateful Thursday morning at 7.30 am, Mirembe glanced at her watch and instantly got anxious. She had exactly thirty minutes to get to her job interview for a life changing opportunity in a highly rated agency. Mirembe had over the course of two years suffered the deep pangs of unemployment. Only this time were odds stuck in her favour as the prospect to leapfrog her competitors to the best position was unbelievably within margin. She could not afford to miss this chance or risk late arrival for the interviews.

 

Quick thinking made her call Jackson Wagubi her usual bodaboda cyclist. Wagubi urgently picked her up with express instruction to deliver her to the interview point within fifteen minutes. Aware about his master’s urgent need, he dutifully jumped on the bike and off they sped. In full flight, Wagubi navigated recklessly past speeding vehicles missing an advancing matatu by a whisker, only to ram into an advancing truck on the opposite side of the road. On impact, both passenger and rider went flying off the bike before hitting the ground with a big thud fracturing multiple bones. Mirembe passed out only to wake up in Mulago hospital after being in a comma for several days. That is fast becoming familiar with many Kampala dwellers with some not lucky enough to survive to tell their story.

 

Description: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\Boda wreckage.jpgDescription: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\boda-accident.jpgBodaBoda accident scenes (Photos courtesy of Daily Monitor and www.msongo.blogspot.com)

 

Bodabodas began in the 1950s as people crossed the border between Uganda (Busia) and Kenya by use of bicycles or motorcycle couriers. It was mostly to dodge customs officials or beat the fatigue of walking through the various checkpoints of the two countries’ borders thus the name bodaboda.  The bicycle owners would shout out bodaboda (border-to-border) to signify the distance to their potential customers. The bodaboda business has over time become very popular in Kampala with many players joining because of its flourishing returns. Several youths have turned to the business as a way of getting out of unemployment and many have been successful.

In Uganda today, there is an estimated 200,000 bodabodas in Kampala alone. Most of these are owned by renowned property moguls around town. The average net income of a town based bodaboda cyclist is between 10,000 to 20,000 shillings per day. In a month they could make up to 600,000 shillings or more in net income. The bodaboda industry is regulated by the Ministry of Works and Transport which is responsible for designing policy plans with appropriate standards to oversee, monitor and evaluate the performance of the transport sector.

As new cars are put on the road daily, traffic has become increasingly pathetic especially during rush hours. The bodaboda business has become a favorite means of many motorists in such situations because of their maneuverability but a menace to many others. The Ministry of Works and Transport is cognizant of this increasing burden and therefore is putting in place measures to alleviate this problem.

In an interview at the Transport Ministry head office in October 2015 The Minister of State for Transport Dr. Stephen Chebrot, says that the ministry has designed a 15 year master plan which if fully implemented will mitigate Kampala’s bodaboda problem among many other challenges in the city like congestion and traffic jams. “The master plan came out of a study commissioned by the ministry on the strategy for transportation development in the country,” hesaid.

According to Cypriano Okello, a transport economist with the Ministry of Works and Transport, the ministry through its statutory bodies like the Transport Licensing Board (TLB) and National Road Safety Council (NRSC) is carrying out regular inspection and licensing of bodaboda operators, testing of bodaboda riders to acquire riders’ group A permits, sensitization of the operators and general public through the media and workshops among others.

The Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association, was a body licensed by Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) to manage public transport in Kampala since the collapse of the state-run Uganda Transport Company (UTC) buses in the late 1980s. However, on expiry of the license, KCCA reclaimed the role of management of bodaboda cyclists. Hajji Ssettumba Umar, the Secretary General of the National Union of Drivers, Cyclists, and Allied Workers (NUDCAW) nevertheless is critical of this measure taken by KCCA.  “There is no need for KCCA to take over the transport sector in Kampala as we are obliged to do regulation. It eases the work of the government when the operators can organize themselves and the supervisory role remains with KCCA,” he notes.

KCCA’s plan is to create an organised city and streamline the transport sector in Kampala. Peter Kaujju, the Public Relations Manager of KCCA in a telephone interview conducted in October 2015 argues that ‘bodaboda cyclists need to learn how to respect other motorists and pedestrians on the road, they seem to be extremely undisciplined on the road which inconveniences others”. KCCA begun implementing measures to manage bodaboda cyclists in the city and has successfully rolled out a registration exercise and realised registration of 64,000 motorcyclists with the majority of them coming from neighbouring towns and districts. “We are also working on a plan to gazette stages in the city with an aim of creating order. We have partnered with the BodaBoda Association and have started sensitisation programs to get them to follow regulation” Kaujju added.

Description: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\Children-packed-on-a-bodaboda-on-their-way-to-school.jpgDescription: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\dangers of boda bodas.jpgBodabodas overloaded with passengers and goods (Photos courtesy of New Vision and www.usalamaug.org)

 

Much as Hajji Ssettumba of NUDCAW agrees with KCCA to register bodabodas because it helps them get recognition by the government to support their future development plans, he is opposed to the idea of relocation of the bodabodas out of the city because it deprives them of business.

KCCA in its efforts to reduce high carnage by bodabodas in the city has hatched plans to reduce congestion by fully identifying all cyclists to make it easy to punish those who breach the law. “We want to reduce stages, create zones where bodabodas will be permitted and restricted, as well as institute labelling on motorcyclists, their helmets and reflector jackets for effectiveness,” Kaujju added.  Kaujju also noted that bodabodas exist to fill the transport gap, and KCCA is working to fully introduce buses, and reinstate trains. “We have been working on a feasibility study of cube cars that will have no option but to follow regulation so as to provide options for the public in the transport sector. We want to create an organised city, where people can comfortably ride, walk and drive. The journey of organising our transport sector has started, we are consistently trading that route,” Kaujju added.

In Mulago hospital, Ward 3C is the Accidents and Emergency (AE) ward. This particular ward is always flooded with victims of accidents majority of which result from bodabodas. The ward has even acquired a pseudo name of the “bodaboda ward.”

 

Description: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\Head injury.jpgDescription: C:\Users\TINA~1.WAM\AppData\Local\Temp\Hospital.jpgBodaBoda accident victims at Mulago hospital (Photos courtesy of Daily Monitor)

According to Dr. Titus Beyeza, the head of the Orthopaedic Department at Mulago hospital, in an interview held at Mulago Hospital, he noted that 90% of patients admitted are accident victims, majority of which are bodaboda accidents. “The orthopaedic ward has run out of space to admit other orthopaedic cases as all the beds are filled up with the emergency bodaboda cases,” he laments.

 

An interview conducted at Mulago Hospital with Dr. Harriet Nabbanja, a consultant doctor on the ward revealed that “the ward today admits twice as many patients as its capacity can and thus many accident victims are treated from the hospital floor. Over 30 accident victims are received weekly resulting in high congestion in the ward”.

 

Dr. Baterana Byaruhanga, the Executive Director of Mulago National Referral hospital notes that the hospital incurs over 1.5 billion shillings on treating bodaboda patients every year. “When weighed against the annual budget allocation of about 2.4 billion shillings to the Directorate of Surgery, this translates to 62.5%.”

An online study by African Centre for Media Excellence(ACME) revealed that 114 out of the 143 respondents interviewed do not own or wear helmets when riding a bodaboda. AIP Foundation, an organization that provides life-saving traffic safety knowledge and skills to low and middle income countries with the goal of preventing road traffic deaths and injuries shares a similar trend of statistics that only 49% of bodaboda riders in Kampala use helmets, while less than 1% of passengers use them.

The Uganda Police indeed acknowledge the risks created to passengers and pedestrians as a result of the bodaboda cyclists.  Steven Kasiima, the Commissioner of Police in charge of traffic and road safety traffic in an interview at his Police headquartersalludes to the need to regulate the bodaboda business to reduce its devastating threats to human life in the city.  He singles out ignorance of the law and lack of training as one of the key reasons why bodabodas have become a menace in the city.  “It is difficult to manage the bodaboda cyclists operating in the city because they are many in number. The majority are ignorant about the road safety rules and regulations. There are times when I have stopped some of the cyclists riding without helmets. When I ask them why they are not wearing the head safety device, they respond that they find no use for it,” retorts Kasiima.

.

Description: https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQoeyA02GdpsJ_r2EPfxmalqpopA5dmtOlgwmsfJ2CL2lGERbPtVQBodaboda rider and passengers without helmets (Photo courtesy of google)

Police have thus moved to make it mandatory for all bodaboda cyclists in Kampala to have professional skills of traffic and safety as well as a requirement of a rider’s permit before being allowed to ferry passengers.

Norman Musinga, the Kampala Regional Traffic Police Commander while addressing the weekly press briefs at his office said that most of the bodaboda riders lack the public service vehicle license and motor third party and permits. “Much as these bodabodas are handy to transport people around Kampala and reduce congestion, they have overwhelmingly contributed to accidents and deaths of people around the city,” Musinga retorted.  The 2014 annual traffic report showed that a total of 1,762 serious accidents involving motorbikes occurred in the capital city during that year.

He notes that cyclists are being sensitized against the failure to respect traffic lights, riding on shoulders and pedestrian walkways, drunkenness, loading more than one passenger, failure to wear helmets and aiding criminals.  “Effective June this year, all bodaboda cyclists are expected to have either the class A driving permit or learners’ permit,” Musinga announced. These drastic steps by Police are expected to reduce accidents and the number of impounded bodabodas that are rotting away at different Police stations after owners’ failure to adduce supporting documents to show ownership.

 

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) the body that ensures that all motorcycles that come into the country are registered has introduced a new online registration process for motorcycles to enhance identification and better compliance to the law governing their usage.  URA Commissioner for Domestic Taxes, Henry Saka in a telephone interview reveals that with the online registration, it will be easier to trace the bodaboda owner and reprimand the errant rider he or she employs.

 

In Uganda, there are about 35 motorcycle suppliers. According to Esther Nakanwagi, the sales manager at Simba Automobiles in Ndeeba, a Kampala suburb, most motorcycles are imported from India. Nakanwagi confessed that the number of motorcycles sold a year range from 250 to 300. These she adds are mostly paid in instalments. “We have given out a number of motorcycles to willing riders, and they pay the money in instalments,” she reveals.

Other traders like the General Manager of Yuvraj International, YowasiMufere, admits that motorcycles are so many in Kampala that they have had an adverse impact on the transport network. He says that much as the supplying companies aim to make profits, they should also contribute to the well-being of the transport system in Kampala.   “The Company employs a specialist to give a three day session on road use and safety tips training to all customers who go to buy motorcycles,” says Mufere.

George Kibwita, the Sales Manager Yamaha shares a similar view that the motorcycles give good business although the company suffers criticism from the community for supplying what many people call “a problem to the country”.  One employee at Yamaha who preferred anonymity confessed that in one of their corporate social responsibility activities, they visited bodaboda accident victims at Mulago Hospital, but all they received were insults. He recalls one patient shouting, “Don’t pretend you care for me a lot. Are you not the people selling these monsters which almost finished my life?”

One frequent user Samuel Matovu however admits that bodabodas are convenient and affordable despite risks of possible accidents and high costs associated with their usage. “They are faster means to beat jam easily,” acknowledges Matovu.

Mary Ssebirumbi, a student at Makerere University, has resorted to bodabodas often to catch up with lectures in time. She also adds that she likes motorcycles for purposes of “privacy”.

According to the Injury Control Centre, Uganda, Mulago Hospital alone receives 5 to 20 bodaboda accident cases every day, resulting to 7,280 cases in year. The same report shows that passenger fatalities as a result of road traffic accidents increased from 3,951 in 2008 to 5,145 in 2013.

 

Motorists interviewed in the streets of Kampala hold the view that bodabodas have become a nuisance in the city. “The bodabodas lack respect for other road users and the road signs,” says Rashid Majid, who has been driving in Kampala since 1990.

When this paper interviewed Fred Kayondo, a bodaboda cyclist at Jubilee stage adjacent to Muganzirwazza mall, he disclosed the risks he has encountered since 2009. “I have survived many accidents especially involving a commuter taxi on Namirembe road,” he notes. Moses Kiberu another bodaboda cyclist near the Old Taxi Park agrees that the bodaboda business is risky and if provided with an alternative would switch to another trade.  “BodaBodas will eventually be phased out in the central business district, to the exception of a few gazetted stages” Chebrot stated.

All is not lost for the industry if efforts are put in place to ensure riders conform to the traffic regulation. Rwanda has fast become an icon in transport management and organization. Uganda may need to bench mark on their best practices to bring this chaotic transport business to sanity.

According to literature obtained from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), they are 18 cooperatives that work hand in hand with traffic police to enforce discipline and law. These cooperatives also act as saving schemes for the people. These are charged with the responsibility to ensure road users dutifully follow traffic signs even in the absence of a traffic officer.  For a cyclist to start riding in the city of Kigali, they must be registered.  Rider and passenger have to wear helmets with identification and mobile phone numbers engraved on them to enable regulators track the errant cyclists.

An official from the Rwanda Development Board and Chairman of the BodaBoda Association, Eugene Rutagarama, in the New Times paper based in Kigali gave a report in November 2005 acknowledging that Bodabodas have designated stages. “Cyclists are trained and given permits to reduce on accidents on the road. Traffic lights are also obeyed by cyclists; they stop and move on the flow of vehicles, they don’t ride on pavements,” he stated.

A concerted effort is required from all transport sector stakeholders to institute stringent regulations for bodabodas to follow. The adverse impact of bodabodas to people’s lives and the transport sector has not gone unnoticed despite high demand by all walks of people in the city. Uganda has a lot to learn from Rwanda in the manner it has managed bodabodas and needs to benchmark effective policies that have worked there.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Section: