This week, the E-Trade association of Uganda has raised its concern to reopen the 2wheel (Boda) transport sector that has faced tough challenges arising from COVID19 safety rules. Much as the opening of Uganda’s economy grants regular citizens a chance to recover from the economic strain, riders in the Boda-Boda sector have been left behind.
The E-Trade Association, an umbrella organization that converges companies and organizations that use the power of the internet to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in Uganda, has called for a removal of the motorcycle (Boda) ban after 7 pm to enable access to affordable transportation mobility for all Ugandans. The current difficult 7 pm curfew restriction has left many asking hundreds of questions, these include:
How will the majority of Ugandans who rely on boda bodas get home at 9pm after work? How will factory workers who work the late shift get home? Will supermarkets stay open late? Less than 1% of Ugandans own a car so this is not an option and Matatu (Taxi) coverage past 7pm is very limited and unsafe for users to walk from a taxi stage and reach the door of their home late hours after work.
The answer to these questions is clear; boda boda transportation provides a safer, efficient, affordable, convenient, last-mile and door-to-door, service country-wide. Banning Boda Bodas after 7pm will therefore make the journey back home on foot at night very dangerous for all Ugandans especially women, the elderly, and disabled.
As a representative of businesses large and small, the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry makes a statement on this concern:
“The Boda-Boda Industry is the second largest employer in Uganda after Agriculture and it provides a livelihood for close to seven million citizens in Uganda who would otherwise be engaged in illegal and illicit activities…It is also largely considered one of the cheapest and most effective modes of transport that facilitates business engagement. Research has indicated the Boda-Boda industry has revolutionalised the economy through bridging the gap of unemployment especially in the youth today.
Keeping the Industry under restricted movement (curfew) when the economy has finally opened up after two years is a disservice to the Business community that heavily relies on it as a primary facilitator for their business engagement in regards to the ease of movement of goods, services and personnel from one place to another.
The government should therefore reconsider its directives and instead train and emphasize the good practices on motorcycles operations in addition to the establishment of a well-updated database on commercial motorcycle activities for their sustainability and a regulated legal framework to the aspirations of the operators, customers and other road users” says Owomugisha Blessing Immaculate, Ag. Secretary-General – Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In Uganda, motorcycles enable millions of people to have the chance to participate in the economy everyday – getting to the market, delivering supplies, getting home after work, visiting a friend, getting to a meeting on time.
The sector is very important, directly employing over 1.2 million people. Boda bodas enable many small and medium scale businesses such as restaurants, bars, gyms and supermarkets to stay open late because employers are assured that there is an affordable last mile means of transportation that their employees can use to get home safely.
“Ever since the curfew was imposed, the best I could do was get daily food for my family, which many times has been quite difficult with the curfew restrictions. Now that schools and the economy have reopened, I still do not know how I am going to take care of my two sons and little daughter when the situation has not changed for me. I was hopeful when the President announced that the economy would be open this year.
I knew all would be well because I would go back to making some money from my customers. especially the party goers. Now I am left wondering where will I get money to support my family? I wonder what boda bodas did to the government,”says a boda-boda rider in Kawempe division.
Whereas matatus or taxis remain a key transport service in Uganda, they are unable to go to the last mile, and cannot get people directly home. A 7pm curfew for boda bodas therefore means that businesses that could have stayed open longer will close earlier for the safety of their employees. This fact alone defeats the purpose of reopening the economy if people can not stay a little longer to make the money they have missed to make for the last two years.
E-Trade Association together with its partners calls upon the business community, regulators and general public to participate in the petition to end boda curfew through signing the petition.
We seek to engage Government decision-makers to consider allowing economic growth and prosperity by lifting the ban on transportation. As an association with a deep understanding of business and employment, we believe this can only be achieved if the Government removes the 7 pm Boda curfew to enable access to affordable transportation mobility for all Ugandans.