You want to rush, beat the jam or it’s the only alternative means of transport available. Wait, think twice before your jump on it. The Boda Boda industry has steadily grown in terms of numbers that once you stand at any junction in Kampala every minute 20 of them will pass by. The 2013 report authored by Standard Bank analyst Simon Freemantle and economist Jeremy Stevens measured motorcycle exports from India to seven African countries including Nigeria, Angola, Uganda Egypt, Kenya, Guinea and Djibouti. The findings indicate Nigeria is the largest importer of motor cycles from India followed by Angola with Uganda coming in at third position.
The industry has evolved into new players include Taxify, Safe Boda, Uber and Mondo-ride, who have been praised as safe, quick, affordable and a model for the future of motorbike transportation in Uganda. The innovation is partly a solution to crimes hitherto associated with Boda boda riders.
This article however is aimed at highlighting the loss of lives, maiming of people and economic loss to the country caused by Boda bodas. Some studies have placed Boda Boda Industry second employer to Agriculture in Uganda, however, there is no actual or even relative figure of their contribution to the economy, and however, what is actual and worrying from Boda boda industry is that, every year, more than 4000 people die through accidents caused by Boda Boda in Uganda. To put this figure in perspective, these are two big secondary schools wiped out, Gayaza High school and Ntare School. These figures don’t capture cumulative deaths of those injured by Boda Bodas.
Mulago referral Hospital, has a ward called Boda Boda, and figures from ministry of health put the cost of treatment of Boda Boda patients at more than 300 billion shillings annually, this figure might even double if you computed all treatment offered from other government hospitals and private ones.
You must have read about a one Albert Ampwera who is at Case medical Centre and the bill is at more than 200 M UGX, this is a gentle man of 29 years who got an accident on his way home from work, which has left him with five head surgeries since November 2018 to date and he can’t even talk, this is my friend, my brother I know. Last week I buried another brother of my friend that was hit by Boda boda in Rwampara. The list goes on and on including myself that got a big scar on my foot.
Data available from Kampala Capital City Authority indicates that Kampala alone has more than 120,000 motorcycles majority of which are engaged in commercial activities. 85 per cent of these motorcycles are not owned by the riders themselves but make a dependable livelihood. I am not sure whether this number won’t double in next five years, what plans are in place before we are wiped out by Boda Bodas, you might have seen children huddled on these two wheel rides going to school, in most cases more than three kids on one bike.
Try as much as possible to avoid Boda Boda if you can, just like we advocate on HIV/AIDS, if you can’t abstain use a condom, in this case if can’t avoid wear that helmet, your hair is not worthy a broken skull.
Police should not allow over loading of Boda bodas, it should also have gazetted driving/riding schools for all these riders to be certified and be issued with permit to ride. Just imagine, people sell their land and hit the stores for Boda Bodas and with no any knowledge of road use and traffic guidelines. In fact, we can largely attribute these deaths to laxity of traffic police.
But also, KCCA and ministry of transport should restrict Boda Bodas from Central business districts to avoid, Jam, disorganization but also allow people to walk and lastly, create sanity in the city. I know Boda bodas have become political tools, but politicians should think about their selfish reasons against our mother, sisters, brothers and children whose lives are lost daily.
The write is the Programmes Coordinator
Citizens’ concern Africa (CICOA)