I was shocked on January 22 when a local TV station reported that there are approximately 38,000 boda boda riders in Kampala and overall 120,000 in the country.
Worryingly, the numbers are increasing in an industry that is not regulated. The reason it is not regulated is because a faction of them defied a registration exercise by Kampala Capital City Authority in 2013.
In fact, it would be very difficult to regulate them now because they are many and they have become accustomed to acting with impunity for years.
However, they are not above the law. Again, on the same day, rival boda boda gangs, who for a long time had been having grievances with the notorious Boda Boda 2010 whom they allege have been mistreating them for years, took advantage of the recent arrest of some ring leaders to torch their offices and the military police had to step in and stop their hooliganism.
We cannot go on like this. In the foreseeable future, Uganda needs to focus on a professionally run bus public transport system and not allow the continued increase of unruly boda boda riders who behave as if they are a law unto themselves.
All road users, motorists and pedestrians desire order in the capital city’s public transport. Yet, boda boda operators flout traffic rules, ride on pavements to the chagrin of pedestrians, scratch people’s cars in traffic jam, resist arrest, have been used as getaways in robberies among other crimes. This is not good for our security.
Therefore, the number of boda boda riders should be controlled to create harmony in the industry. I also propose that boda boda operators are phased out gradually as alternative means of employment are found for those already in the industry.