Boda boda riders hire private teachers to capture passengers' details

Monday July 27 2020

A boda boda operator displays his records book and sanitizer. These are key requirements that they are supposed to have as they resume carrying passengers. Photo by Moses Ndaye

Boda boda operators in Namutumba district are offering private teachers Shs300 to capture details of each passenger on their behalf as they resume normal operations today.

The Chairperson of boda bodas in Namutumba District, Mr Samuel Wemunya, said they have resolved to hire private teachers to help with the task, promising that the pay will increase their pay with time.

“We have nothing to do for boda bodas who can't read and write. It is upon them to resign, go to school and return to the profession as educated people,” he said.

According to Mr Wemunya, the fare is expected to increase to cater for the teachers.

"Where we have been charging Shs1,000, we will now charge Shs1,500; all we want is people who will capture passengers’ details.

"If some teachers are not willing to take the Shs300 offer per passenger, we shall turn to secondary students in the area," he added.


President Museveni during his 19th televised address in regard to the fight against Covid-19, gave a green light for boda bodas to resume carrying passengers today. He, however, issued some conditions that they ought to meet in order to operate and key among them is to capture details of their clients including names and telephone number for easy contact tracing.

However, some boda bodas over the weekend said they have opted to hire teachers to capture such particulars because many of them cannot read or write.

Terms of payment

According to Mr Wemunya, the contracted teachers will sit at their designated stages with the boda bodas and once a passenger comes, they will be the ones to capture his or her details.

There will also be a separate book used to tally the number of passengers the teacher has documented before being paid at 6pm as they retire to their homes in line with the presidential directive.

Are teachers interested?

Private teachers are among professionals who have been affected by the lockdown after government closed all schools in March over Covid-19.

This prompted some of them to take on several informal jobs such as pottery on construction sites, washing cars, making coffins, baking chapati and selling sugarcanes among others.

President Museveni, during his last televised address, said government was mooting the idea of paying each of them a uniform month's salary of Shs500,000, but considering that they are about 350,000 countrywide, he instead pledged a Shs2b support to their Sacco.

Mr Livingstone Musaala, a teacher of Bulange Nursery and Primary School in Namutumba district, said although the money is little, there is no alternative and urged his colleagues to seize the opportunity much as it will tarnish their profession.

“To me, the offer is worth it because if I can capture details of 100 passengers, that is Shs30,000 in one day which is good money,” he said.

Mr Isaac Opejo, a teacher of mathematics at St Catherine Junior School in Sonde, Mukono municipality, however, said he wouldn't take on such an offer, even in his current situation.

“My colleagues can proceed in their quest for money but I personally can't because it will be a reputational risk,” he said.

Julius Mbulamuko, a boda boda operating at Bulange Stage in Namutumba Town Council, said he does not know how to read or write and will definitely be happy to hire the services of private teachers.

Mr Samuel Nsekere, another boda boda operating at the same Stage, said the boda boda business was the easiest as it required no qualifications but starting today, one should have some formal education.

Mr John Mukembo, also boda boda at Kirerema Trading Centre Stage in Bulange Sub-county, said because of the new directives, many colleagues are going to lose their jobs.

"Motorcycle owners are now going to give them to educated boda bodas, including teachers who have joined the business, and leave out illiterate riders.

“It also means that in the long run, private teachers are going to take over our jobs as they wait for their schools to reopen,” he said.

Mr William Mukooli, who operates at Kagulu Stage in Kagulu Sub-county, said some of their passengers lack phones and National Identity Cards, and urged government to issue them with free handsets.

“Not all people own mobile phones and Identity Cards; so, collecting data from them will be difficult,” he said.

However, Kassim Amanya, a Senior Four leaver operating in Nabusugwe Village, Goma division in Mukono municipality, said he will personally record his passengers' details.

“I have my Senior Four certificate, and can read and write any name,” he said coherently in English.

Mr Musa Kisambira, a boda boda on Main Street in Jinja City, doubts he will have time to capture passengers’ details.

“Already, a lot of time is spent haggling over the fare; when you add the time spent getting customers’ details, the whole process is just time-wasting.

“My intention was to continue riding the way I've been doing; but starting today, I'll have a book and pen for only registering those with National Identity Cards,” Mr Kisambira said.

The Namutumba Town Council LC3 Chairsperson, Mr Godfrey Mwembe, feared passengers will take advantage of boda bodas' illiteracy to give out incorrect information.

According to him, many details will not be recorded if neither the passenger nor boda boda can read and write.

“It will be very difficult for authorities to, in case of a lapse, trace for contacts whose particulars were incorrectly entered,” he said.

Mr Yona Mwanja, a resident of Bulafa Village, Namutumba Sub-county, fears boda bodas are going to 'unnecessarily' start calling his wife because they have her number.

Joy Wenene, another resident, urged government to allow boda bodas who can't read and write to use their smartphones to instead take pictures and videos of their passengers.