With government of Uganda bent on regulating and streamlining bodaboda operations within its capital, the Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Hon. Betty Amongi has confirmed cabinet’s move to approve substitution of motorcycles with city-buses as the new preferred means of transport in the Central Businesses District (CBD).
While addressing Media Wednesday this week, Amongi intimated that the move by is intended to extend affordable mass public transport as well as decongesting Kampala CBD, by creating a bodaboda free zone that the proposed city buses will ply.
“Cabinet has approved money for purchase of these buses. Parliament has already approved the money, which will be released beginning this Financial Year. Very soon we are going to procure buses that will be running within the bodaboda-free zone… at a very low cost,” Amongi assured.
Although President Museveni allowed boda-bodas to resume operations this week, Amongi said that government is increasingly concerned by how riders and passengers flout Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) like wearing face masks at all times and using sanitizers, just two days since passenger transport by bodaboda resumed.
As such, government has now moved to regulate the sector more closely, a move which will see enforcement of the bodaboda-free zone commence on November 1, 2020. However, the Minister for Kampala revealed that government has given riders in Kampala an ultimatum of 90 days to complete registration with the authorities on demarcated stages from which they will operate.
“Since we had limited time to conduct registration, KCCA and Ministry of Works and Transport have resolved that this 90-day grace period will be used to demarcate 585 boda-boda stages on grounds in all the divisions, and to erect signage mapping out the free zones,” Amongi explained.
She added that government will use the three months grace period to engage with boda-boda operators, to standardize fees chargeable to use a stage and encourage them to form SACCOs where members within a particular stage can contribute savings.
Amongi said that in order to support the free-registration exercise, government, through ministry of ICT, is finalizing development of a bodaboda travel application to be used in the registration process. This application will show the movement of all registered boda-bodas or taxis.
Further, Amongi directed that digital transport companies like Uber, Safeboda and Bolt shall be required to register and share data with government.
Gen. Katumba Wamala, the Minister for Works and Transport emphasised that the process of registering boda-boda operators is backed by the law.
“This is provided for in the law, in the new Traffic and Road Safety Act of 1988, as amended. You will find that all these digital transport companies had not registered with the ministry, yet the law requires them to register,” Katumba said.
For his part, John Walugembe, the Executive Director of the Federation for Small and Medium Enterprises-Uganda (FSME) argues that although well-intentioned, with the aim to organize Kampala, the bodaboda-free zone being created within the Central Business District is “very big” which could potentially affect business operations.
“Government should minimize the area of boda-boda exclusion. Having a very big area without boda-bodas may be counterproductive and will affect productivity of businesses and people. All stakeholders need to be consulted before implementing such a program,” Walugembe advised.