By Salim Uhuru
For the last week, traffic Police lead by the Traffic Police Commander for Kampala Extra Region, Norman Musinga has been clamping down on errant bodaboda riders.
By the end of Tuesday, about 5,000 bikes had been confiscated from their riders, over cases ranging from over loading, riding or driving without helmets, riding without permits and riding in the wrong lanes.
This is just a small number compared to the over 80,000 bodaboda bikes recently registered by KCCA in Kampala. This latest operation was launched after an outcry from the public on the behaviour of the riders on the road. Many people have lost lives; others have been maimed for life because of the errant and careless manner in which these riders use the roads. Mulago and other hospitals are full of bodaboda casualties. Something certainly had to be done.
I am writing this as one of the people who use these bikes all the time. I have been using them for a very long time. In fact, I was one of the pioneers of bodaboda riding in the city over 20 years ago. At that time, I had a Mate 50cc.
But over the years, the bodabodas have strayed and this is largely due to lack of regulation. We all agree that they are fast and ‘convenient’ from one destination to another; however amidst this ‘convenience’ they cause a lot of mayhem. This is why regulation is important.
As the clamp down continues, those who pass must be trained again on road usage because most of them do not understand the road user`s codes, hence causing these accidents. It is common to see bodaboda riders jump the traffic lights and in fact, some of them have been knocked dead with their passengers in the process. This mayhem must be handled.
As far as security is concerned, there are many wrong elements hiding among the riders. They attack and rob or even kill Ugandans in the guise of being bodaboda riders. Only stringent regulation can stop this.
Additionally, the bodaboda riders should pay something to the authorities. Several amounts have been proposed before, however political interference has stopped this. But then, if a market vendor using a capital of sh50,000 pays a daily fee to KCCA, why not a biker who uses a capital of sh3.5m? From my experience, a single bike makes as much as sh40,000 per day or sh1.2m per month. Certainly they can afford to pay something small.
Lastly, as riders, it should be incumbent upon them to look after their lives. They must realise that a head helmet is not won for the Police, but to save them injuries in case they are involved in any accident. I request the riders to realise that this regulation will make the trade much better.
The writer is the chairman of the NRM, Kampala Central and a regular boda boda user