Govt to review restrictions on bodas

Boda bodas on Jinja Road in Kampala. A new report on improving road safety in Uganda has revealed that at least 89 percent of boda boda riders in Kampala City do not have driving permits. PHOTO / DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The riders, whose night operations have been restricted right from the first lockdown in March 2020 from 6pm onwards, are an essential part of the night economy as they help in easing mobility.

As night economy reopens today, President Museveni has said the fate of prolonged curfew restrictions on boda boda riders will be decided upon by National Covid-19 Taskforce.

The riders, whose night operations have been restricted right from the first lockdown in March 2020 from 6pm onwards, are an essential part of the night economy as they help in easing mobility.

Without specifying the time period, Mr Museveni, in an interview recorded by State-owned Urban Television, indicated that the riders are being kept under lockdown for the wrong reason.

“What I said is factual in opening up the economy. The only issue that has remained is my people of the boda boda. I said they should wait but I have heard them… Then I asked the other team, the committee comprising of scientists, and asked them “why are they keeping boda boda under lockdown?” he asked.

He added: “It appears they were focusing on the security aspect, so I have ordered them to review because we have been on fighting Covid-19 not security issues. On the security aspect, we can handle the way we have been handling; but let them first analyse it.”

While delivering his end-of-year message on New Year’s Eve, the President announced the full reopening of the economy starting with schools on January 10 and reopening of the night economy, two weeks after the schools have started operating.

Protest

However, the delayed lifting of restrictions on boda boda cyclists has attracted criticisms from notable Ugandan politicians asking the government to give everyone chance to recover from the pandemic. Mr Abubaker Kawalya, the Rubaga North MP, said keeping boda boda cyclists under lockdown is unacceptable discrimination.

“It should be noted that boda bodas are a major component of the night economy, which government intends to open; hence subjecting them to curfew will be doing the economy a disservice,” Mr Kawalya, who is a shadow minister for Kampala, wrote in a January 17 petition submitted to the Speaker of Parliament. Last week, Democratic Party (DP) also pledged to offer free legal services to riders who would be arrested for defying curfew directives.

During their weekly press conference in Kampala, the DP spokesperson, Mr Okoler Opio, said opening the economy fully means that every sector is free to operate at any time. “We have pledged to offer free legal services to the boda boda cyclists arrested past curfew...There are several campaigns that we run last year, which have yielded results,” he said.

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