KAMPALA – Boda boda operators have dragged government to court, accusing it of continuing to block them from carrying passengers amid the lockdown over COVID-19.
In the petition filed in the High Court in Kampala on Monday, July 6, 2020, the National Federation of Professional Cyclists Network (NFPC) said the government’s action of blocking their business is discriminatory since it has allowed other businesses and transport service providers to reopen in the relaxed Covid-19 lockdown.
The directors of the boda boda association; Fred Kagaba, Semakula Twaha, Darausi Basereka Mbazira, Yassin Ssemuju and Umar Jjuuko Katerega stated that the restrictions are an infringement and a threat to the concerned people’s right to equality and freedom from discrimination.
They further state that boda boda is their only source of income yet the government has not made any concessions or arrangements for them for purposes of their welfare and well being during the lockdown.
The group states that by nature, the boda bodas cannot spread COVID-19 much more than minibuses and buses that are allowed to carry more than one passenger in an enclosure. They now want the court to direct the government to allow them to carry passengers and also make a declaration that the government’s refusal to carry passengers is a failure of state duties enshrined in the Constitution.
“A declaration that government refusing people engaged in the boda boda transport business to carry passengers is not acceptable or demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society and therefore, an infringement and threat to their economic right to carry out their lawful occupation, trade which is contrary to the Constitution,” the petition reads in part.
Last month the President relaxed the Covid-19 lockdown and partially reopened public and private transport allowing vehicles to carry half capacity passengers, but insisted the bodabodas will remain banned except to carry passengers except cargo. The President said it would be premature to reopen the boda boda transport business.
Mr Museveni reasoned that there is barely no social distance between the rider and the passenger, a scenario that can accelerate the spread of Covid-19.