Keep boda boda numbers in check
Posted Monday, October 21 2013 at 01:00
A week after Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) embarked on the registration of motorcycle operators, commonly known as boda boda, more than 20,000 have so far been registered. This is a positive development for an industry that has for long been a nuisance.
The importance of streamlining boda boda operations is long overdue. This city has for years grappled with the menace of an unregulated boda boda industry whose blatant disregard for traffic regulations has caused many deaths and lifelong injuries resulting from accidents.
According to a report released early this year, two out of every three road traffic accidents on our roads are either caused by or involve boda bodas. And what the survey captured is only the number of accidents that were reported to the police. The survey also noted that 75 per cent of the 2,000 people killed on our roads each year are boda boda riders or their passengers.
In monetary terms, the researchers found that accidents involving boda bodas cost Mulago hospital Shs1.5 billion - 15 per cent of its total budget in the 2008/9 financial year. For a health sector that is in dire need of more funding, the country cannot spend so much to treat injuries that would have been avoided if there was order on our roads.
Numerous attempts to regulate the motorcycle riders have been futile in the past, with police failing to get cyclists to conform to basic road safety regulations such as using helmets and respecting traffic regulations - making the cyclists a law unto themselves! In fact, when KCCA first announced the registration exercise in August, it was met with stiff resistance, with boda bodas beating up KCCA workers.
The decision to register and regulate the industry is well-intentioned and should be supported. But beyond KCCA’s general statement that the “process aims at streamlining and planning for boba bodas”, there should be specifics on, say, how the numbers of cyclists in the Central Business District will be controlled.
So far, 550 private motorcycles have been registered and more are expected to come up. That is not a small number.
For this exercise to bear fruit, KCCA should ensure the numbers of cyclists in the city are controlled; new entrants in the business should be thoroughly scrutinised; and all stakeholders, including traffic police, must demonstrate willingness to abide by, and enforce the law.