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Will the proposed transport ordinance improve boda boda operations in Kampala?

Boda bodas in Kampala.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA has commenced consultations on a draft ordinance intended to streamline the operations of public transport in Kampala. The objective of the KCCA Public Transport Management bill is to provide for the regulation of public transport including taxis, coasters, special hires, and boda-bodas, providing for the establishment of infrastructure, management, and supervision of the public transport sector.

Of the different public transport operations, boda-bodas have been a subject of debate as different forces in government and public transport providers critique how the industry is governed. There is an ongoing brawl between the Ministry of Kampala and the office of the Resident City Commissioner-RCC on one side and the political leadership at KCCA led by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago on the other.

The State Minister for Kampala, Kabuye Kyofatogabye, says that the Central Business District should have a maximum of 7,000 boda bodas. There are an estimated 30,000 boda-bodas. Last year, Kyofatogabye announced a program to register, conduct health examinations, and train boda boda riders in safe road use to ensure that riders are more organized and professional at their job.

Boda bodas have been accused of harboring wrong elements who engage in criminal activities like theft, robbery, murder, and rape among others hence warranting the need to regulate them. However, the Lord Mayor says that the organization of the boda industry should be done through a law made by the Authority.

Together with the City Executive Committee and the Directorate of Legal and Clerk to Authority, the Lord Mayor has drafted a bill of ordinance to streamline activities of boda-bodas among other public transport providers. According to the bill, a person operating a motorcycle, motorized tricycle like tuk-tuk, or boda boda for hire or reward is required to acquire a license given by a competent Authority (in this case KCCA) as stipulated in the Traffic and Road Safety Regulations number 30 of 2016.

On top of getting a license, the operator is required to register with KCCA by applying in writing to the Authority. An applicant should provide their name, physical and postal address, National ID, letter of recommendation from the LC 1 of their area of residence, copy of the boda-boda registration book, copy of the rider’s riding permit, location of the stage to operate from and also pay registration fees as shall be determined by KCCA.

KCCA shall then issue a registration sticker with the rider’s name, registration number, and date of registration to be fixed on the boda boda. The sticker shall be valid for a year before the rider renews registration. Renewal is proposed to be made at least two weeks before the 12 months elapse. The Authority shall assess the conduct of the rider before renewing registration. The ordinance also provides for gazetting of boda- boda stages where a prescribed number of riders would operate.

“An operator of the boda boda shall only park and operate at a stage designated and gazette by the Authority. An operator shall not move or operate from a stage in which they are not authorized to operate without the prior approval of the Authority” reads the bill in part. The bill further provides that KCCA shall prescribe a stage and route to identify for every division within Kampala with a distinct color-code rider’s jacket and every boda-boda operator within the division’s stages shall be required to wear the color-codes attire while operating a boda boda.

“Each stage shall have a unique area identification code to be inscribed on the rider’s colored jackets. A person shall not use any area within Kampala Capital City as a parking area or a stage for a Boda-Boda unless it has been gazetted as a designated parking place” reads part of the bill. Siraj Mutyaba, the Chairman of the Boda-Boda Industry Uganda identified several “loopholes” he thinks to make the bill inadequate in addressing the challenges facing the industry.

One, he says that the bill provides for rider’s registration to KCCA which when done, some unknown people could infiltrate the job. He says that all riders should be registered at the state level and names submitted through the structures to KCCA after vetting at the stage level. He also spoke against the provision that KCCA reserves the right to accept or decline to grant an operating license to a rider saying the provision could be abused by KCCA to impose authority over riders through denial of licenses to riders.

Mutyaba also questioned the lack of specificity of the amount of money they shall be required to pay to acquire licenses and to register at KCCA.

Mutyaba further questioned the provision on routes to be used by Boda-Bodas riders. Although the draft bill proposes that riders operate through specific routes, Mutyaba says this is not how Boda-bodas operate. Unlike taxis, Boda-bodas operate like special hire taxis where the passenger dictates where the rider takes them and riders don’t operate on specific routes.

Akram Kasozi, a Boda-boda rider from Magoba arcade and the secretary for the defense of the Boda-Boda Industry Uganda, says that the main challenge that needs to be addressed is the infiltration of the industry by criminals. Kasozi says that if the registration exercise is handled well, it shall help to identify genuine Boda-Boda riders from criminals who use motorcycles to rob, kill, and rape among other criminal activities.

Kasozi says there have been several attempts to streamline operations of the Boda-Boda industry but in vain. He hopes that with the guidance from the government, Boda-Bodas shall improve its operations.

On his side, Frank Mawejje, the Chairperson of KBA Fenna Boda-boda Association Kawempe Limited, says that while riders are ready to welcome the proposed legislation, KCCA needs to work closely with them to ensure that the provisions of the law are implemented in a manner that shall restore order in the Industry.

Specifically, on the matter of gazetting stages, Mawejje says that KCCA should base on available stages rather than create their own. In July 2020, KCCA gazetted 579 Boda-Boda stages riders rejected them for being far from their current stages while others were merged. Although several stages are located in road reserves, riders who start up these stages sell space to new riders, and hence shifting them meant that they had to purchase space again.

In other areas like the Central Division especially the City Center, arcade managers rent out stage space to riders. Mawejje wants KCCA to conduct stakeholder meetings with the riders to sensitize them on the bill and get their input.

In a recent interview with Uganda Radio Network, the KCCA Deputy Lord Mayor, Doreen Nyanjura, says that as political leaders, they are not opposed to organizing Boda-bodas in Kampala but rather want the program to be guided by law. She says that after the ordinance has gone through all the necessary steps and different stakeholders made their inputs, it shall be implemented and improve operations of the Boda-Bodas in Kampala.

Kampala Capital City Authority (Public Transport Management) Ordinance 2022 was presented for the first reading and sent to the committee on works to conduct further consultations on the provisions therein before it is presented for the second reading and bate on the same. If passed, the bill shall be sent back to the Lord Mayor’s office, then to the Minister for Kampala, and then to the Attorney General’s office, which shall verify it to ensure that it doesn’t conflict with any other laws of the land.

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