Boda boda criminals caught on CCTV but get away scot-free

Boda bodas carry passengers on 8th Street  Industrial Area in Kampala yesterday. Several criminals disguised as passengers on boda bodas have been stealing bags from unsuspecting pedestrians. PHOTO | RACHEL MABALA

What you need to know:

  • The source added that the crimes were committed beyond curfew time for boda bodas. Boda bodas were banned from operating beyond 7pm.

Police using CCTV cameras have over the last two months captured 76 boda boda riders in the process of committing crime in Kampala Metropolitan area, Daily Monitor has established.

However, no single suspect has been arrested so far. The crimes were committed between March and May.

A close source at the National Security Command and Camera Control Centre at Naguru police headquarters, who preferred anonymity in order to speak freely, told Daily Monitor yesterday that footage caught the suspects using unregistered motorcycles.

The source added that the crimes were committed beyond curfew time for boda bodas. Boda bodas were banned from operating beyond 7pm.

The CCTV crime database reveals that Nansana Police Division recorded the highest number of cases (20), followed by Kampala Central Police Station (14) and Old Kampala (13). Others are Kawempe Police Division with 10 cases, Katwe Police Division with nine, Wandegeya with five and Mukono with four.

“We detected and monitored criminals moving on boda bodas in all highways and other roads within Kampala Metropolitan area but arresting them has been our challenge because they ride motorcycles with no number plates,” the source said.

In 2018, government drafted rules to guide the registration of all boda bodas in the city through Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and demarcating the free transport zones within the city.

Ms Benny Namugwanya, the State minister for KCCA, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the government halted plans to demarcate boda boda-free zones in Kampala City until a comprehensive transport plan is unveiled.
“At this time, boda boda registration is not the main activity. We are now looking at how many boda bodas can operate within the city,” she said.

“The major focus is on how we can achieve a sustainable transport system for the city without looking at only boda bodas but also other commercial vehicles in the city. We expect to have a comprehensive plan soon, which will be unveiled to the public before its implementation starts,” the minister added.

Kampala Metropolitan deputy police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigire said the crime of people stealing using boda bodas was high before police intensified operations.
“Crime has reduced because of police operations on boda bodas and the use of cameras. When such culprits are arrested, they are charged with theft and taken to court for prosecution,” he said.

The chairperson of the Kampala Road Boda Boda Association, Mr Denis Kato, said those involved in committing such crime are operating outside registered stages for boda bodas.
“The passengers should always get boda bodas from the registered stages and not those without permanent parking in the city,” he said.

Mr Thomas Muhereza, a resident of Mengo in Rubaga Division, said his bag was grabbed by a thief disguised as a passenger on a boda boda. “The bag contained a laptop and other documents,” he said.
Ms Rosette Atuhaire, a resident of Kyengera, said thugs moving on a boda boda snatched her bag containing money, two phones, a passport, visa and other documents.
The recent police crime report of 2020 shows that 41,950 cases (21.4 per cent) reported in 2020 were due to theft as compared to 55,704 cases reported in 2019, giving a 24.6 per cent decrease. By the end of the year, 16,421 cases were taken to court. Of these, 5,257 cases secured convictions, 101 were acquitted, 1,176 dismissed while 9,886 cases were still pending in court.