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Cyclists challenge COVID-19 restrictions in court

A section of the boda boda cyclists addressing journalists at the High Court in Kampala. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A section of boda boda cyclists under the National Federation of Professional Cyclists Network have dragged the government to court over the continued restrictions imposed on their activities.

The government has maintained restrictions against motorcyclists as one of the measures to control person to person contact, one of the ways through which coronavirus disease spreads. As a result, motorcycles are only allowed to carry luggage and operate only between 6:30 am and 5 pm, a move which has kept many of them out of business.

A group led by the five directors of the National Federation of Professional Cyclists Network contend that the restrictions are not acceptable in a free and fair democratic society. They add that the restriction on the boda boda transport business is unjustifiable when other means of transport are operating normally.

In a suit filed before the Civil Division of the High Court, the directors; Fred Kagaba, Semakula Twaha, Darausi Basereka Mbazira, Yassin Ssemuju and Umar Jjuuko Katerega stated that the restrictions are an infringement and a threat to the concerned people’s right to equality and freedom from discrimination.

They further state that boda boda is their only source of income yet the government has not made any concessions or arrangements for them for purposes of their welfare and well being during the lockdown.

The group states that by nature, the boda bodas cannot spread COVID-19 much more than minibuses and buses that are allowed to carry more than one passenger in an enclosure. They now want the court to direct the government to allow them to carry passengers and also make a declaration that the government’s refusal to carry passengers is a failure of state duties enshrined in the Constitution.

The Head of the Civil Division of the High Court Justice Michael Elubu has advised the boda boda cyclists through their lawyers to file for an application for urgency such that their case can be heard before the court vacation which takes effect on July 15.

The suit comes barely a week after a boda boda cyclist Hussein Walugembe burnt himself to death in Masaka after he failed to get back a motorcycle which had been impounded by police for alleged breach of COVID-19 regulations.

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