By Josepha Jabo
It is unfortunate that it took the death of a prominent politician’s daughter for the hashtag #regulatebodabodas to begin trending on Twitter. On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 21, 2016, news broke that Doreen Tashobya, who was the daughter of Entebbe Municipality MP, Rosemary Tumusime, had perished in a boda boda accident. She is one of many, except the other causalities don’t make news headlines the following day. Nowadays, many Ugandan youth think that riding a boda boda is the easiest and quickest way to get rich, but judging by the statistics it is also a way to end up with a head injury, have a limb amputated or die young.
According to the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) 17th Annual 2014 Report, under the section ‘Human Rights Concerns arising from Motorcycle (boda boda) Accidents’ states, ‘Motorcyclists, pedal cyclists and passengers on motorcycles contributed to fatalities more than any other category. A study conducted by a team of Orthapaedic surgeons at Mulago Hospital in Kampala showed that 75% of all trauma cases at the National Referral Hospital were a result of boda boda accidents. According to the ICCU, Mulago Hospital alone received 5-20 boda boda accident cases every day, which translated into 7,280 cases a year.’
The argument that boda boda fill a transport gap is weak when one considers that they have made Ugandans lazy and obesity-prone, because a distance one could have walked, one now finds oneself flagging down a boda boda to take them to their destination. People use them to beat the traffic jam, but boda-boda also contribute to traffic jam because the city is overrun with thousands of them. They are a law unto themselves, ride on pavements to the inconvenience of pedestrians who have to leap out of the way, flout traffic rules, over speed at break-neck speeds, ride down the wrong way on one-way streets and are underemployed.
Boda bodas are very aggressive in the way they solicit for customers; one can hardly take a walk in Kampala in peace without being harassed by a boda boda. In fact, nowadays, when one walks in Kampala, one has to walk clutching one’s handbag very tightly as some of them are known to snatch women’s handbags as they ride by. The argument that if boda boda were banned it would increase crime, does not hold water because boda bodas abet crime by acting as getaways in robberies. Therefore, boda bodas should be banned in Kampala and only operate in the hard-to-reach rural areas, where the public transport network has not reached.
The Writer works for Uganda Media Centre