PIONEERS. The bicycle frames of Uganda’s locally made bicycle are made from bamboo and bark cloth. It has big, wide handle bars for stability and long loads. It has extra wide tyres for rough roads and protects rims and a heavy duty, wide rack.
Uganda’s jubilee will forever be remembered, for many things among which is the launch of a unique locally made bicycle. The new bicycle named “Bamboo Bicycle of Uganda (Booganda)” made from bamboo foliage and bark cloth by Entrepreneurship Institute of technology in Rubaga, a Kampala suburb looks simple but nonetheless exciting.
“We were importing bicycles from various countries like the US, but were highly taxed, this made them expensive,” Charles Mulamata Kayongo, the institute Principal said when explaining the motivation for creating the bicycle. He reveals that they contacted their mercantile in the US telling them of their plight and referred them to his counterpart Craig Calfee working on a project manufacturing bicycles in Ghana and exporting to US. “He accepted and equip us skills in manufacturing bicycles,” he said. The team then got professional cyclists from various divisions in Kampala because of their passion for bicycles and some students to become trainers of trainers and conducted a 10-day training in bicycle manufacturing.
The trained youths then sought of the easiest raw material for making bicycle frames and resorted to bamboos because of their eco-friendly advantage compared to timber, having been tested in real world events like hurricanes and earthquakes, where well-constructed bamboo homes stood strong while conventionally built structures gave way.
He said they tried out bamboo frames and wrapped their intersection in bark cloth and it was the best bike. The bicycles were tried out in various organised bicycle competitions and they emerged the best. Other than front folk, chain, sporks, whole gear arrangement and tyres, other parts are locally got from Uganda that could make them cheaper. Kayongo, said,“Their tyres are designed to act like shock absorbers and are designed to carry more load than ordinary bicycles.”
Nuldini Kasoma, one of the trainers at the institute revealed that the bicycle is tested and is considered the best although it has not been rolled out on the market yet. “It’s handmade and has extra features. We need to first sit and compute out the real prices to start selling the bikes,” he said.
Maria Mutagamba, Minister for Tourism while commissioning the bicycles on the World Tourism Day in Entebbe, said, “We are not going backwards. I only knew bamboo for making toothpicks but we have now widened scope to start making bicycles which is a good innovation.”