TORORO – Tororo Municipality Mayor John Opio was on Tuesday, July 23, held hostage in the Municipality’s chambers by commercial motorcycle riders commonly referred to as bodaboda who were demanding him to make his pronouncement to scrap off parking fees for cyclists.
The cyclists stood by the door side for close to a half an hour demanding the Mayor to fulfil his earlier promise during his campaigns for the Mayoral seat in 2016 to exempt bodaboda cyclists from paying monthly parking fees of UGX 10,000.
The cyclists held the Mayor, the Deputy Town Clerk, Irene Okuna hostage during a crisis meeting that had been convened by the Tororo Municipal Council authorities to see how best to streamline operations of the bodaboda business within Tororo Municipality.
According to the Deputy Town Clerk, Irene Okuna the meeting was also aimed at sensitizing cyclists on the need for road safety, good hygiene and sanitation practices courtesy of passengers as well as security of passenger’s luggage where they sprung up to remind the mayor of his promise to have boda boda cyclists exempted from paying parking fees.
The Mayor is also reported to have pledged to build parking shades to shelter cyclists as part of streamlining the bodaboda business in the town.
The protesting cyclists said that despite the monthly taxes levied on them, they are not benefiting from the tax as they continue to operate under hostile weather conditions, the riders accuse the town authorities ignoring to construct for them parking shades at their respective stages.
According to the available records at the council, The Bodaboda business remits to the town’s treasury over UGX 78.6 million annually.
The cyclists also booed the Mayor during his defence speech.
The furious cyclists claim that sometimes landlords have chased them from their verandas as they take try to shelter from extreme weather conditions.
The landlords accuse the cyclists of obstructing their business yet if council had constructed shades at every stage they would be protected from such embarrassments.
The Mayor was then rescued by the Tororo Municipal Council Revenue Officer, Mrs. Lilian Okello who explained to the furious cyclists that taxes issues are beyond the Municipal Council but can be channeled through Members of Parliament.
Earlier on the cyclists also accused the Municipal authorities of failing to help them recover UGX 20 million from their current Chairperson Thomas Emurukut that was given to the bodaboda Association as a Presidential pledge in 2008.
Mr. Charles Oketcho one of the cyclists said since the money was handed over to the association; no accountability has been presented before them neither has the chairperson called for any annual general meeting for the association to update members on the financial status of the association as the constitution requires.
However Opio the mayor explained that he still has the promise in his mind but its just because the cyclists are still disorganized to an extent that its existing leadership structures seem to be dormant.
He said as a council, whatever they do is backed by law and the only way they dissatisfied cyclists can be helped is by mobilizing them to form a Sacco so that they can apply to manage collecting parking fees by themselves as it has been done to drivers of taxi’s.
“I agree promising to influence council to consider exempting boda boda from paying parking fees but I could not do it when the association is still disorganized therefore implore you to organize yourselves and I will advise my council’’ said the mayor.
Meanwhile, the officer in charge of traffic police at Tororo central police station Sharon Ndyahabwe challenged the council authorities to cause order in the town by creating a trailer parking hub to decongest heavy trucks from parking along the roadsides especially along Nagongera road which she said are aiding accidents.
She said some of the truck driver’s park in any manner they wish on grounds that they pay parking fee to council authorities and in case of any accidents police is blamed.