On June 28, CCTV footage circulates showing two men killing a boda boda man and making off with his motorcycle in Kakeeka Zone, Rubaga Division. This incident opened the public’s eyes on the dangers riders, motorists and passengers face.
Peter Nyombi narrowly escaped death after he was blocked at a residential area. “A woman stopped me on Kampala Road and told me she was going to Bunga in Kampala. However, she led me to a secluded place and upon reaching, there was a car waiting for us. Three men jumped out of the car and demanded that I hand over the motorcycle. When I tried to resist, I was beaten and left for dead as the men and woman took off with my motorcycle,” he says.
Benson Ochili, a cab driver, works both day and night and is normally stationed at Café Javas on Kampala Road during the night shift. He narrates how he lost a smart phone and did not receive fare for a two-way journey made in a single night.
“I was approached by two men who came from a restaurant at 10pm. They wanted to first be driven to Mukono and after make a return journey to Kira in Kampala. I agreed and we started the journey but on reaching our final destination, one man quickly excused himself to use the toilet while the other asked if he could use my phone to make a call to someone who had the money to pay the bill. He said his phone had blacked out,” Ochili narrates.
He argued that there was no network in the car and left to make a call from outside the car but incidentally rushed to a small corridor and never returned.
“Besides that, a colleague who was strangled with a rope while driving a customer to Mukono. He was threatened to stop and leave behind his car. He was then forced out of the car, blindfolded and tied with ropes before being left by the roadside. Although he reported the incident to police, it is now a month with no progress on the whereabouts of his car,” Ochili adds.
Patrick Engwedu, a resident of Mengo shares his ordeal. “I boarded a public service vehicle popularly known as Matatu with five other passengers, each seated in a row. I sat in the front seat, which was already occupied by one other passenger but the door was faulty and could not close. So, I was advised to keep holding it to avoid falling out,” he says.
“After a few minutes, I was pushed out of the car and fell in a trench. I noticed immediately the taxi had no tail lights, number plate and as I looked for my phone to call for help, I noticed that it has been stolen,” he adds
According to the nnual Crime Report 2018, a number of aggravated robbery cases of motorcycles and vehicles were recorded at 481 and 98 respectively, theft cases of motorcycles, vehicles and mobile phones were also noted at 4,612, 1,200 and 6,205 respectively.
Some of the most insecure places cited by motorists and cyclists include Muyenga, Kulambiro, Katooke, Kizungu, Rubaga, Kira, Garuga, Kitezi, Nansana and Mukono.
Boniface Beingana, a boda boda rider at Ndeeba stage, says he takes note of anyone new in the area and takes care not to take them anywhere until he has asked about who they are. He also avoids taking customers to areas that are not well lit and instead leaves them in open places.
Akim Sserunjongi, a boda boda cyclist stationed at Snay Bin Amir Street Stage, says he does not make stops, especially requested by passengers at night.
“Sometimes they throw luggage or phones or hand bags after they have insisted on decreasing the speed. Once you heed to their request, thugs ambush you since they would have connived with them at certain points,” he says adding that if he charges Shs6,000 to take a passenger to Kololo and he gets one offering Shs20,000, he will not take such a customer because they are being dishonest.
In case of matatus
Engwedu says he is vigilant now about the taxi he boards and ensures he is going to a secure place. He also does not answer calls until he is in a safe place.
Hassan Sseruku, a boda boda cyclist at Shoprite stage at Clock Tower, attributes his safety to God. “We cannot protect ourselves since the customer is always behind. We are not allowed to carry sharp weapons or paper spray by the police.
However, I avoid engaging in lengthy conversations with customers so that I concentrate on the road.
Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, advises boda boda cyclists to desist from carrying two passengers late at night even if the passengers are offering a higher fare. He says riders should not focus on the money but on one’s safety.
“They should also operate within their localities or know the safety and all the corners of the designated area. In addition to that, be critical and inform your colleagues at the stage about the client you are taking. Colleagues should be aware of your movement,” he says.
Onyango adds that riders should also install tracking devices onto the motorcycles and vehicles so that authorities are able to locate them.
“Passengers should be conscious to board a car or boda boda from a gazetted stage so that it can easily be located in case of any threats,” he advises.
Police has come up with safety tips to help boda boda owners and riders to protect themselves from criminals such as:
1. Search your clients for weapons.
2. Safety gear of helmet and jackets.
3.Covering a short distance.
4. Linkages across boda boda stages.
5.Fast-tracking all cases of theft.
6.Avoiding late hours.
7.Use jammers to act as a deterrent when the engine switches off.
8.Use of GPS trackers to assist in the recovery of motorcycles
9.Avoid self –hire riders and substitutes.
10. Be vigilant by keeping an eye on suspicious behaviour in your neighbourhood.