After four months in lockdown, motorcycles commonly known as boda bodas have resumed public transport in Uganda and are allowed to carry passengers. However, boda bodas must follow strict measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, much to the displeasure of both cyclists and passengers.
For four months since Uganda instituted a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, motorcyclists known as boda bodas were banned from carrying passengers, though they were still allowed to carry luggage.
On Monday, following a presidential directive, motorcyclists were allowed to give rides again.
Ssemakula Anthony says he has been struggling to survive during the lockdown since carrying luggage is not as lucrative as carrying passengers.
To carry passengers, each motorcyclist is required to wear a mask. They are also expected to take riders’ temperatures and to keep a register of passengers and their phone numbers, so authorities can trace them if necessary.
Anthony says he can’t afford a thermometer and he thinks the register is pointless.
"All the regulations put in place need money," he said. "How do you ask a boda guy to carry a temperature gun yet he’s carrying one person? Then again you ask me to have a records book. And that book, even if I write that I took so-and-so yet this disease does not manifest the next day, that so-and-so was the rider — how does it help? This is just to fail us.”
To beat the traffic jam in Kampala and get anywhere in time, many passengers prefer using the motorcycles over cars.
But Benjamin Kisakye says he is not comfortable sharing his personal details with people whom President Yoweri Museveni has on several occasions indicated are used to commit crime in the country.
“Because I never know the person I am travelling with or who is taking me to a particular place," he said. "The taxis were released and they are allowed to carry half their capacity but we’ve never been asked to give them our details and we don’t know the people you’re sharing the taxi with. So, it doesn’t make sense for me to share my details with the boda guy.”
However, Ugandan police say the boda bodas will not be allowed to operate unless they follow the rules. Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said failure to do so will trigger an investigation.