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Motor bike cyclists popularly known as “bodaboda” are a common sight on the streets of Kampala and other urban areas in Uganda. According to the road safety performance review report (2018), the number of motorcycle taxis in Kampala increased from 15,979 in 2007 to 405,124 in 2014. Their increasing number is worrying, given the increasing number of road traffic injuries caused by “bodabodas”. The road accidents are largely as a result of lack of basic knowledge of traffic laws and blatant disregard of law and order. The Road Safety Performance Review Report (2018) indicates that motorcycle fatalities between 2011 and 2016 doubled from 570 deaths to 1170 deaths (51.3 percent increase in the five-year period).

The Motor bike cyclists have also been linked with high crime, robbery and murder. Conversely, “bodaboda” riders have also been victims of crime. Most recently, Mr. Derrick Mulindwa, a “bodaboda” cyclist, was murdered in Kakyeka, Mengo in Kampala. A recent mini survey conducted by Uganda police indicated that 28 “bodaboda” riders have been murdered in a space of three months, a situation which is very alarming.

Despite the menace, this mode of transport seems to be here to stay. This is largely because “bodabodas” provide a source of livelihood to the many unemployed youth. The demand for “bodaboda” taxis among consumers has also increased. Their ability to penetrate remote locations, and the rising traffic congestion has made them an attractive alternative in beating the traffic jam and penetrating inaccessible and unmotorable suburbs.

The importance of “bodabodas” and the rising crime calls for proper regulation of the sector. While many of “bodabodas” riders are organised in associations, this mode of self – regulation is not sufficient to reduce frightful crime prevalent in the sector and to ensure that “bodaboda” riders abide by the traffic rules and regulations for their own safety and that of their passengers and other road users.

Traffic officers have been deployed on the roads both in the city, highways, and other roads to enforce traffic rules but their attempts to tame the “bodaboda” riders have been futile. Many errant riders are evading the law due to lack of enforcement of the regulations put in place to regulate the sector. While CCTV cameras have been installed in the city and along some major highways, it not a preventive measure as they only become handy after a life has been lost to murder or accident. In addition, it has been reported that some riders offer bribes to traffic officers to avoid fines and prosecutions.

 

This article was written by Rehema Kahunde  rkahunde@eprcug.org

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