Of ‘boda boda’ riders and their source of daily bread
By BY GRACE NAKATO
| November 11th 2013
BY GRACE NAKATO
UGANDA: A boda-boda, whether bicycle or motorcycle, is a source of livelihood for many in Uganda. There have been suggestions to rid Kampala of these death traps, but none has taken root.
The powers that be finally opted to register all riders to help regulate the industry and reduce on road carnage and criminal activities. Police were deployed to the streets to support the exercise and you can be sure they found quite a number of riders without driving permits, let alone registration cards.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a huge fan of boda-bodas. They are quite convenient if you like to save time commuting short distances in our traffic. Like anyone else, I loath sitting in jams. I do agree that boda-boda riders can be a rowdy lot.
They imagine they are a law unto themselves, but this could be because that is their only source of livelihood. A motorised boda-boda makes at least Sh2,000 profit, daily. Interfering with one’s source of livelihood will always have serious repercussions.
One rider was recently stopped and requested to produce a driving license. He, instead, asked the officer: “I have been riding for more than five years and no one has ever asked me for a driving license. Who are you to start asking for one now?”
This type of lip obviously earned him a hot slap and a scuffle ensued, leading to the impounding of his motorbike. He was told he could only pick it after producing a driving permit and a registration card.
Shockingly, the rider went home, picked his two children and dropped them off at the duty desk saying, “I have brought you my children to take care of, now that I have no way of providing for them”.
He soon found himself being led to the cells for child abandonment, riding without a permit and a number of other offences.
The children resorted to loud wails as they asked to be locked up with their father.
A crowd soon gathered with each weighing in their views. OCPD ordered for the rider to be released as he was the sole care-giver.
The rider declined to leave without his motorcycle, as he would still be unable to sustain his life.
The rowdy onlookers soon coerced the police to give in to his demands. Honestly, what else would he have done? Toed the line of the law and put the children in one of the run-down government children’s homes? Or let prudence allow a more humane decision?
Elsewhere, a rider caught a thief in the process of absconding with his motorcycle. Community policing (or Nyumba Kumi as you call it in area code +254) began in earnest and the culprit was caught red handed. A kangaroo court of riders and the public immediately began to mete out retribution using kicks and blows.
A policeman on foot patrol soon arrived and handcuffed the suspect. As they were walking towards the police post, the rider, who must have been a shot-putt contender in his hey days, hurled a huge rock squarely hitting his mark and sending the suspect to a higher court.
The policeman quickly unclasped the corpse and started running as he lamented “why did you have to wait until I cuffed him to kill him?” I guess he was wondering why that amount of force had not been applied earlier when the suspect was on the ground receiving kicks and blows from wananchi.
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