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The Bodaboda Mess:Fatal Transport in the City

Ikebesi Omoding

The Bodaboda Mess:Fatal Transport in the City

Boda boda riders at one of the stages

A little over a month ago, a Trade Union leader had to get on the pillion of a bodaboda in a hurrying attempt to attend to an urgent matter to solve problems in her union.

As she was being ridden on one of the main roads leading to Kampala City, a huge lorry was bearing down on the bodaboda rider as he tried to weave his way to avoid the lorry barreling down on them.
In a frantic ditch effort to avoid being crushed, she jumped off the bodaboda and landed heavily on the grassy side of the road.

The lorry went by her by a whisker. The bodaboda man was not so lucky; he was unable to duck, dive or dodge the truck. It run down on and crushed him along with the motorbike.
Now limping from the encounter, the woman is thanking God and her stars, for being alive; she would rather live with the limp.

Seven of such bodaboda accident victims are not so lucky – on a weekly basis.

According to the billboard poster advertisement released by the Kampala City Council Authority, that statistic is of the people who die every week. Multiply that number by a month, and a year; and you have a staggering number of fatalities attributed to bodaboda accidents – far higher than those of the prevalent Covod-19 deaths so far reported in the country.

The mushrooming number of bodaboda on the streets is frightening. What is more, the manner and standard at which they are being ridden is nothing to talk about with equanimity.

There are a number of factors to this phenomenon.
In the absence of a regular motor transport, in which buses, the train service and a properly regulated motor car service, is available to the commuters, the bodaboda motorbikes have come to fill the void, but with uncomfortable repercussions on many fronts.

Political rallies have taken into the bodaboda to trumpet the popularity of their campaigners. Indeed, bodaboda have been very useful in this area, to the extent that, at the onset of the just-concluded presidential and parliamentary elections, a number of institutions, that would otherwise be at the forefront to ensure the safety of citizens, imported and registered thousands of this mode of transport vehicles.
Now, at the crossroads, particularly at the street lights, this menace becomes madly crystal clear. Watch any entrance to the center of the city, at the street lights, and one gets a very creepy feeling of impending disaster.

The bodaboda riders do not observe any inkling of traffic rules. Even when the Traffic Police officers are trying to control the flow of traffic in an alternating manner, the rides simply weave their way through the motor vehicles that are supposed to have the right of way.

Observing this, one wonders whether there is a traffic rule for bodaboda. Perhaps the Inspector General of Police, Okoth Ochola, should create a special Bodaboda Traffic Police.

the bodaboda riders are breaking every rule in the traffic book. Even those that are obvious, to the consternation, especially of the pedestrians, as the Traffic Police look on unconcerned.

This is especially on the one-way streets. The bodaboda riders have made sure now that this does not apply to them, with disastrous consequences.

One pedestrian, overlooking the Uganda Railway Headquarters, wanting to cross the intersection of Nkrumah and Nasser roads at the front of the SAL building, had a rude shock of his life.

He was concentrating watching and being careful of the traffic coming from the side of the Victoria University, as it is a one-way street from the SAL building, when this bodaboda man was coming from the wrong side of the road knocked him flat on his back.

The on-lookers watching the spectacle noticed that the bodaboda rider was not even looking where he was going – moreover the wrong side of the road. After knocking the pedestrian, he tried to run, but the victim quickly got up and held the motorcycle. The bodaboda man was then taken to the Nkrumah Police Post to make a statement.

Imagine this! The bodaboda cycle rider was not even looking where he was going. And it is very common with these people.

They pay completely no attention to where they are going; and for that matter, what they are doing. It reminds one of the saying in the Bible book of Isaiah, where he says that such people have eyes, but they do not see; and have ears, but they do not hear. This is a complete satanic scenario!

One reason for this nonchalance on the part of these bodaboda riders is that, they are sponsored by the people who are behaving themselves to be above the law. In that instance, they do not care even when they are reported to the Police, or not – the matte is simply ignored.

A good example happened, not very long ago along Dewinton Road. As one bodaboda man was going down the road, but slowly, another rider who was carrying planks of wood across the pillion, quite obviously over-extending the space where the other road users would by-pass him, rode very fast and brushed the handle-bars of the other rider. In any case the bodaboda is not for lifting heavy luggage, or carrying more than one person on the pillion, as is common practice by these people.

Because he was faster than the other, it took the other by surprise, twisted the other’s handle bars and made him crash down in the middle of the road.

Completely unflustered, the wood carrier, who was not very shifted in his trajectory, increased his speed and did not even bother to look back. Those are the kind of fellows we deal with in Kampala.

The litany of the traffic abuse by the bodaboda riders is simply legend in Kampala and other areas of the country: no wonder the record of traffic deaths involving them is huge. And apparently, there is not remedy for this escalating menace in the country.

Sometime ago, the Minister of Kampala, Betty Amongi, announced that there would be a re-registration of the bodaboda’s and re-routing them according g to stages, such that they are not the eye-sore that they have become. It is notable that this announcement was before the elections. After the poll, that has been conveniently forgotten. It is if to say; let those other road users suffer, who cares!



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Ikebesi Omoding is the acclaimed author of a weekly column titled: From the Outside Looking In

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