As boda boda cyclists resumed passenger service yesterday, a fresh directive to keep them out of the central business district was quickly shelved to allow authorities to plan better.
The Minister for Kampala Affairs, Ms Betty Amongi, at the weekend said Cabinet had resolved that the cyclists do not access the city centre.
“The Boda boda Free Zone will run along the following boundaries; Wampewo Roundabout- Jinja Road to Kitgum House junction - Access Road - Mukwano Road to Clock Tower -Kafumbe Mukasa Road - Kisenyi Road - Mackay Road- Kyaggwe Road- Watoto Church-Bombo Road - Wandegeya - Hajji Musa Kasule Road- Mulago roundabout - Kamwokya junction - Sturrock Road - Prince Charles Drive- Lugogo Bypass - Jinja Road- Wampewo Roundabout,” she said.
The decision by Cabinet is laudable in as far as decongesting the city is concerned and it is long overdue. However, boda boda operations is just one of the transport challenges the government needs to address to ensure that city dwellers or those coming into Kampala, have an efficient public transport network.
To begin with, an efficient transport system is one that is available (one can get transport whenever and wherever), reliable (one can be sure of getting to any destination easily), timely (can be accessed at the required time), and should be affordable (for all levels of income earners).
This also requires a good transport network that is well designed, has a high degree of safety and reliability, does not allow unnecessary traffic congestion, and the roads or railway lines should be well maintained.
Studies indicate that commuters waste nearly 20 hours per week in traffic jam alone.
The mess we have in Kampala, in terms of congestion, is partly because of many vehicles coming into town. Many private cars usually carry on average two people, yet a bus would have up to 50 commuters. But because the public transport is a mess, unreliable and costly, sometimes people prefer to drive private cars.
The roads are also narrow and poorly maintained, creating snarl-ups and flooding whenever there is a downpour. The railway, which would have been an alternative, does not tick any of the aforementioned yardsticks of an efficient transport system.
We urge Kampala Capital City Authority to fast-track the 2015-2016 strategic plan, which spells out ways of decongesting the city. We have written in these spaces that the public transport system in Kampala needs an overhaul, and we shall not tire. Boda bodas is just one in the right step.
We hope that the plans will not be politicised and that KCCA won’t shelve them further.