Coronavirus: Taxi touts, cyclists turn to gambling

Tuesday April 14 2020

Touts: The men who control taxi parks, stages in the city

 

By TOM BRIAN ANGURINI

Many youth in the city who used to work as taxi drivers, touts/conductors and boda boda riders have resorted to indoor gambling following the suspension of public transport over Covid-19.
In a random survey conducted in selected places in Nakawa and Makindye divisions, Daily Monitor found many groups of youth playing cards for money in corridors of buildings and secluded corners of dilapidated houses to evade security personnel.
Mr Paul Ikote, a former taxi conductor at Kitintale Stage on Port Bell Road, said they used to earn between Shs15,000 and Shs20,000 a day from taxi revenue. He said he has resorted to playing cards to earn a living for family’s survival.
“For a person to be allowed to play a fee is charged ranging from Shs2,000 to Shs10,000 depending one’s capacity to offer so whoever wins takes all the money the group has contributed. That is how we survive in the lockdown time,” Mr Ikote said.
Mr Denis Olweny, a former boda boda operator in Kireka, said he plays a gambling Ludo game at night but said security forces always arrest and beat them.
“I used to get more than Shs30,000 a day from my boda boda work but all that’s now over. I have a family to feed, so I resorted to gambling,” he said. Mr Geoffrey Anguyo, another youth who used to work at Luzira stage, said many of his colleagues have taken to gambling to survive.
Mr Herbert Burora, the Resident City Commissioner of Nakawa Division, warned youth against gambling, saying they face arrest.
“They should wait patiently as government distributes food to them. This situation is not permanent and will soon be brought under control instead of breaking the law,” he said.
Mr William Azuwai, a former boda boda rider at Bugolobi stage, said government should have allowed them to work up to 2pm.
“I am only here with my wife and do not have children but banning boda boda riding has made life hard for us. It was the only way of making money and to make matters worse, I cannot go back to the village in West Nile as there is also a lockdown on public transport,” he said.

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