KAMPALA – President Yoweri Museveni in his Tuesday night address to the country relaxed further some of the restrictions imposed on the country in March this year as part of efforts to stem the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Accordingly, bodaboda riders who had been barred from carrying passengers were allowed to resume business starting July 27, but with stringent conditions, including being is possession of a hand sanitizer, helmet, mask as well as a book and pen to register passengers.
This website interviewed a number of bodaboda riders and their reaction to the Presidential directive is a mixed grill served on the same plate.
Yusuf Dabada, a bodaboda rider from Bulubandi stage in Iganga district says he dropped out of school in Primary Four and has since forgotten how to read and write.
“It will require hiring someone to write the names for me which is impossible and besides, our passengers do not have time for such processes and will be willing to ride with anyone who will not bother them with registration,” Dabada said.
He also said they not have space on their motorcycles to accommodate all the gadgets they are required to move with.
“We do not have space to carry sanitizer, a book, helmet and all that extra garbage the President ordered us to carry and at the same time carry passengers,” Dabada said.
Gerald Mukama, the chairperson of Bugembe boda boda stage in Jinja, said registering names of passengers will help stem boda boda theft that was rampant in the recent past.
“Registering passengers is a good move but the book should be kept at the stage because if we move with it, boda boda thieves will start by grabbing it before robbing the motorcycle. However, if the book is left at the stage with the chairman and a robbery takes place, it will be easy to trace the robbers,” Mukama said.
But Hussein Kuzaima, a resident of Nampirika village in Iganga district, said allowing boda boda riders to register passengers is a suicidal move likely to increase promiscuity and lead to broken marriages.
“These people have been disturbing our women since time immemorial, giving them a license to register contacts will only exacerbate the vice,” Kuzaima said.
Christine Kyangwa, the deputy mayor Buwenge Town council, said giving boda boda riders the green light to get passengers’ contacts will lead to increased cases of unwanted pregnancies.
“Getting phone numbers from passengers will lead to unwanted pregnancies yet boda boda riders have a tendency of impregnating women and running away from responsibility,” Ms Kyangwa said.
Anthony Mugerwa, a boda boda rider, said President Museveni has given them a leeway to engage women and beget children.
“We have always been interested in the women we ferry but getting phone contacts from them has been a problem. Now that President Museveni has simplified our work, we are going to sire children with the female passengers we ferry and in return for his act of generosity, we will support and vote for him in the forthcoming election,” Mugerwa said.
Grace Mawagala, a boda boda rider on Bugembe stage in Jinja district on his part, side the presidential directive is a welcome relief to bodaboda riders because they can now officially ask for phone contacts of female passengers.
“It has always been painful ferrying a beautiful lady and chatting with her throughout the journey only for her to turn your request for her contact down,” Mawagala said, adding that he was even thinking of supporting People Power but has since reverted to supporting the yellow bus.
Boda bodas had been stopped from carrying passengers in March as part of the presidential directive aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus. The ban on boda boda business led to a widespread outcry that climaxed with a boda boda operator is Masaka city identified as Hussein Walugembe setting himself on fire on July 2 after police impounded his motorcycle and allegedly demanded money to have it released.
The incident sent shock waves across the country and opened the eyes of the public and authorities on the plight of boda boda operators.