Robbers. The gangs waylay the boda boda riders at different spots on major roads where they clobber them and take off with their bikes.
Arua. Several youth who had resorted to boda boda riding to earn a living are now scared for their lives following the emergence of a new crime wave targeting them. A number of criminal gangs have set base in several areas from where they emerge and terrorise the riders.
The gangs waylay the boda boda riders at different spots on major roads where they clobber them and take off with their bikes.
At least 10 boda boda cyclists have reportedly lost their lives and motorcycles to these notorious gangs since January. Some of the criminals reportedly disguise as passengers, who then ask the boda boda cyclists to take them to a particular destination before they pounce on their victims along the way.
According to investigations by Daily Monitor, some of the criminal gangs operate around River Oli Division and Barifa Forest in Arua Municipality.
The groups allegedly ride on motorcycles without registration numbers as they trail their victims.
The most dangerous spots include Barifa Forest, Ociba Coast, Dadamu and Onduparaka-Odramacaku Road leading to DR Congo.
The police have been put on the spot for the failure to apprehend the culprits.
The West Nile region police spokesperson, Ms Josephine Angucia, said they are aware of the criminal gangs terrorising boda boda riders.
“We know of a group called “Fire Eaters” but people in River Oli Division are not giving us enough information. We cannot go on to arrest people anyhow without proper evidence. We are also told [these gangs] are in possession of guns,” she said.
Following the attacks in boda boda riders, a suspected boda boda thief was lynched at Ociba Trading Centre in May.
“Life has become difficult for me because I fear carrying men, especially those wearing jackets at night. This is because the thugs usually hide weapons in those jackets and attack us at isolated places,” Mr Daniel Aziku, 32, a boda boda rider, told Daily Monitor recently.
“Boda boda business is now risky yet it is through this business that I am able to foot my bills. Ever since my colleagues were murdered, I have since resorted to work only up to 7pm,” he added.
Fr Nakari Adiga, a victim of the criminal gangs, said in April, his motorcycle was robbed at a valley near a culvert bridge as he returned from Ociba.
“A man came from the bush and stopped me while holding a gun. He only demanded for my motorcycle, which I surrendered to him. He threatened to shoot me if I did not surrender it. I have not recovered it to date,” Fr Nakari said.
Mr Safi Tiyo, the chairperson of Arua Boda Boda Association, said the association will partner with police to improve security for the boda boda riders, who have become a major target of armed robbers.
He urged the riders to always report suspicious cases to police.
The cases. According to police statistics from January to June, there were 156 cases of robbery across the West Nile region.
Out of these, nine were of motorcycle robbery, either on gun point or use of other weapons.
Prosecution. In the same period, at least five people have been convicted of robbery, 26 cases are pending and one was dismissed.
In July, police recorded 33 cases of robbery in the region.