Alleged persecution, crime and intolerance in the motorcycle transport business is believed to have provided the environment for Boda Boda 2010 to emerge.
And by the same measure, the three vices that they emerged to fight are bringing the association to its downfall after barely seven years of highhanded management of the boda boda business.
In May 2006, the then Commissioner of Police Community Affairs, Mr Asan Kasingye, commissioned hundreds of traffic wardens under Kampala Union Boda Boda Cyclists Association (Kuboca) led by Mr Abdu Masokoyi who were tasked to fight crime and also regulate traffic among boda boda cyclists.
But it was not long before the Kuboca wardens, who were not earning a salary, turned to soliciting bribes and making illegal arrests to earn a living.
The group became unpopular among riders.
In 2006, one incident on Bombo Road would be seized by the NRM to win the hearts of the cyclists.
The late Tom Julunga (a former Forum for Democratic Change supporter who was shot dead by the police on June 6, 2009) with his colleagues in the boda boda business, blocked President Museveni’s convoy demanding his intervention to stop Kuboca’s harassment.
The group accused the Kuboca of connivance with police and the then Kampala City Council to collect illegal fines that the officers of the two institutions would then share.
President Museveni summoned Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, who he tasked to explain the harassment allegations.
Gen Kayihura denied knowledge of Kuboca and that marked the beginning of the end of the association.
On March 7, 2010, Gen Kayihura called a meeting of cyclists to talk about the management of boda bodas in Kampala and its surrounding areas.
Mr Abdullah Kitatta, then a popular local NRM leader in Rubaga Division, and Mr Godfrey Kasiita, the head of security at St Balikuddembe Market, told Gen Kayihura how leaders of Kuboca dressed in yellow T-shirts had tarnished the image of the ruling NRM government by extorting money from unsuspected riders.
“Kuboca people impound cycles from riders and demand money before releasing them. They are doing it wearing yellow T-shirts, which has soiled the image of NRM that it is anti-people,” Mr Kitatta told the police chief. Gen Kayihura ordered the then Kampala Metropolitan Police commander Andrew Sorowen and Kampala Metropolitan South Police commander Moses Kafeero to close all offices of boda boda groups in the city.
A week later, the then Town Clerk of Kampala City Council (now Kampala Capital City Authority), Ms Ruth Kijjambu, sent announcement of the election of the new leadership in Kampala City. The elections were to be held on May 28, 2010. On the day of elections, all former leaders of boda boda groups were arrested by the police.
Mr Kitatta was elected the patron and Mr Antansi Kafeero, the chairman of Kampala Central. This how Boda Boda 2010 emerged and it paid allegiance to Police and NRM.
With the backing of the ruling party, Boda Boda 2010 took over the management of all stages in the city centre. They banned cyclists from showing support to Opposition leaders lest they lose their slots at the stages.
After the 2011 General Election, Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, started Walk to Work protests that paralysed the city. Boda boda cyclists would escort Dr Besigye to the city centre, which attracted huge crowds. Boda Boda 2010 allied with the police to crack down on the protests.
Gen Kayihura recently praised them for helping the government to stop walk to work campaigns. He even allowed them to register cyclists as a way of dealing with criminals that had infiltrated the business.
Registration of cyclists
They started registering cyclists for a fee and even impounded motorcycles of those who did not have a membership card from their association. The impounded motorcycles were parked at their head office at Bukesa in Rubaga Division. They also carried out espionage on the Opposition.
On September 9, 2013, KCCA attempted to register boda boda cyclists, but the leadership of Boda Boda 2010 blocked the process, beat up registration officials and burnt the materials. The process was halted by police.
Slowly, Boda Boda 2010 became a political wing of the NRM.
In August 2016, Gen Kayihura was summoned at Makindye Chief Magistrate’s Court over beating up Dr Besigye’s supporters; they raided the court and beat up people.
Without any reprimand, they again last year attacked school children, who had red bandanas, and police officers escorting them. Despite public outage, they were not prosecuted.