Gov’t should outlaw boda-bodas and transform them into tuku-tukus
If you happen to be a pedestrian in this troubled city of Kampala, you need to have eight eyes and four ears to escape the boda-bodas (passenger motorcycles) which come flying at you from all directions.
Boda-bodas made January 2014 my worst month since I set foot in Kampala many years ago. The first week claimed the life of my young brother Arafat Ntambi who was riding a boda-boda along the northern bypass in Kyebando, a Kampala suburb. He fell on the tarmac and died two days later at Mulago hospital. He left behind seven children, the eldest only 13 years and in Primary Seven.
In the second week, my aunt Nalongo fell off a boda-boda in Kyazanga, Masaka, and died instantly. She was on her way to a neighboring village for the second funeral of her nephew who had also been involved in a boda-boda accident in December 2013. A car coming from the opposite direction put on full lights which made the boda rider swerve, throwing off my aunt in the process. She was buried a day after the burial of her nephew.
In the third week, I received a phone call that my nephew had been killed while riding a boda-boda. The circumstances of his death were not clear, but it was assumed he was riding a heartless passenger who hit him on the head and made off with his motorcycle.
In the fourth week, my elder sister nearly lost her life when she was knocked down by a boda-boda while crossing the road at Namasuba, along Entebbe road.
A stranger picked her phone and called to inform me that “the owner of the phone” he was using had been involved in a boda-boda accident and needed immediate attention. Because I was in the middle of town, and could not quickly maneuver through the evening traffic jam, I called my brother and asked him to quickly pick her and bring her to Mulago hospital.
In the same week, another sister of mine lost her grand child in the village. Sweet six-year old Razia was knocked dead by a boda-boda. Deep down in Gomba, a district with rugged roads, it was almost impossible for me to believe that a boda-boda could kill someone there, but it had happened.
Five accidents in one month, involving people related to me, set me thinking that boda-bodas are the biggest killers of our times; that government has no deliberate effort to rescue us from the boda-boda carnage; that hundreds of boda-bodas join our roads every day without clear guidelines; that we shall continue to perish at the hands of these two wheeled things if we do nothing; that even if boda bodas were removed from the city center they will continue killing people.
Boda-bodas have provided employment to many young people and made access to some places swifter but they are finishing us. While it is true that other countries all over the world also use bicycles and motor cycles as the simplest means of transport, their accidents rates however are not as high as ours. Why can’t we make these boda-bodas less risky, say by turning them into tuku-tukus.
A friend of mine spent a one month holiday in Bangkok with her family and she told me they used tuku-tukus for the entire time they were there. A tuku-tuku is a three wheeled motor vehicle which makes it more stable than our motorcycles. Besides, it can carry more than two passengers at a go, all seated comfortably.
Unlike bodabodas, tuku tukus are slow. They are big and cannot surprise one with a knock, yet these are transformed boda-bodas. Even down here in neighboring Tanzania, tuku-tukus are more common than boda-bodas. In Dar-es-Salaam they have their own parks.
What government should do is to quickly outlaw boda-bodas as public transport units and instead allow the three wheeled tuku-tukus. We can get specialists from Tanzania to assemble them until our own people learn how to do that.
With that, government will have hit many birds with one stone: It will have saved the jobs of the boda-boda riders; reduced the road carnage on our roads; reduced the theft of motorcycles as tuku-tukus are slow and bulky; and also reduced the thug groups of boda-boda thieves who are killing riders on a daily basis. However, let us not forget that tuku tukus are easier to control given the fact they are more visible and bulky.