The Kampala Boda-Boda Dilemma!
Each day, thousands of passengers in Kampala depend on “Boda bodas” for fast, reliable, and flexible connectivity during their travel. To meet this need, city authorities across the globe are increasingly opting to work with neutral providers and urban planners to plan for equitable transport facilities and to readdress the general form of cities for equity and reliable transportation unlike Kampala’s city authority that portrays motorists as a threat to city development.
In 2002, a group of Vendors related to an association called “Tukole Bukozi Traders” were joined by the city Mayor Ssebaana Kizito to fight against the Council enforcement that wished to evict them from the streets of St Balikuddembe market. After the elapse of 10years, vendors still conveyed on the streets of the city; all efforts to evict them were largely not effective and hence failed by 2011 when Jennifer Musisi also insisted on the same.
On several occasions, Lord Mayor Lukwago has scorned KCCA for unlawfully evicting street vendors and hawkers through his assertion that Uganda has got no supportive law to evict the urban poor. He has since said that such people would be licensed by KCCA formerly and designated roadside specially planned markets for order, convenience and effective city functionality. At a certain moment, the former RCC Hud Husein brought in the National Army (UPDF) to apply vigour in the eviction process, but all ended in vanity.
This deceitful ‘scorching fire’ has also hit up Motorist business due to the increased tension in the city centre that has been brought up by insecurity related actions, congestions and corresponding road indiscipline. The catastrophe could be redirected through having separate lanes designed for motor bikes just the way it is on Namirembe road and Luwumu Street.
Last week the media received ruthless statements from the prime minister and Gen. Katumba regarding the reduction of Motorcycles within the CBD. This conclusion had been made without fanatic consultative meetings with various stakeholders. The erratic 7000 wanted motorcycles in the centre are strongly believed to be very ideological numbers rather than practical and bound to face continuous opposition.
This phobia has prompted the KCCA Executive Committee to petition the High Court to quash the ban on “Boda-bodas”, on grounds that it is illegal, heartless and unprofessional. This committee stated that no one supports this business, yet it employs more than 200,000 innocent Ugandans. Recently, the president of the republic of Uganda criminalized “Boda bodas” during a 2017 vigil of one of the great leaders that succumbed to assailants who used motorcycles to fire all around his private vehicle. However, these are a few individuals that have used the improper road design to fulfil their individual benefits at expense of the other Ugandans who use the business to sustain their cost of living within a dying economy.
Therefore, I wish to bring to the attention of Hon. Nabanja and Gen. Katumba the fact that the country’s job market is still limited by challenges including the wage gap, corruption, nepotism and tribalism yet university entry is free for all. This implies that the largest group in informal businesses emanates from graduates that try to creatively and unluckily make ends meet after failing in the unhealthy job competition in organizations, central and local governments to informal self-employment. There are numerous challenges in the informal sector that need urgent considerations rather than sending out urbanists from the city. It is through such acts that the government hitherto receives opposing groups on many of its strategies.
Owing to Lukwago’s fight for the wellbeing of the urban poor, it is unfair to relate it to seeking Political Capital yet there are no avenues embraced formerly to switch the status quo. The registration of “Boda bodas” and having them stipulated into licensed stages is important as said by Gen. Katumba but the challenges of the city are wider than that. It is the poor land use development that causes congestion within the developing city. If the aim of the government is to organize the ‘Capital’, then comprehensive research on the dos and don’ts needs to be established.
An all-inclusive Urban Planning scheme should be established in Kampala if equity is to be availed for projects’ acceptability. This will attract compliance to smart city development strategies formulated by all stakeholders. Generally, unless there are more alternatives for youths, “Lukwago’s fight for Boda-bodas is a fair play” aimed at keeping the poor in the city since they equally share Constitutional Rights.