The Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Ms Betty Amongi, recently unveiled regulations to streamline the boda boda industry in Kampala City.
According to the minister, the new regulations were passed by Cabinet and are supposed to be implemented by relevant authorities.
However, the highly publicised regulations have since sparked controversy, with majority of boda boda cyclists contesting the new plan.
One of the most contentious components in the plan that seems to have attracted the cyclists’ ire is the creation of free boda boda zones in the city.
The former argue that the minister’s biggest undoing was unveiling the plan without first engaging them to have their views captured.
But while Cabinet’s proposals are good, they do not address the bigger problem.
Kampala City has been grappling with unregulated public transport system for a very long time and this has had a dent on the image of the city.
The lack of laws guiding the sector is worsened by the fact that the existing transport system is privately owned and this gives leeway to operators to run the show.
As such, the competing interests among rival groups leaves passengers with no option but to heavily pay the price.
For instance, whereas Cabinet proposes for boda boda free zones in the city, gazetting stages and registration of all cyclists, there is no laws under which they will be implemented.
In the new proposed transport plan, Cabinet does not make mention of the revenue aspect yet this is critical in bolstering the economic growth of any city.
The leadership of the cyclists remains a contentious issue to date and it has previously sparked fights, leaving majority of cyclist injured.
The former Minister for Kampala, Ms Beti Kamya, is on record having said some boda boda associations are backed and bankrolled security officials. So for now, we do not know who is a genuine boda boda operator.
This is a structural problem which can only be tackled head-on. The first step is to create a legal environment which clearly outlines how the sector must run instead of tackling the problem from the head.
Although there is a Boda boda Ordinance which is currently before KCCA’s council awaiting approval, the minister and her counterparts seem to have undermined the legislative roles of council.
Ideally, the minister should have waited for the passing of the ordinance or brought Cabinet proposals so that the authority makes an ordinance which comprehensively tackles the boda boda issue in the city.
The problem with the new regulations is that it may be a tall order for cyclists to heed them because there is no law in place to enforce them and prosecute any one who flouts them hence this will leave the problem unresolved.
According to Section 8 of the KCCA Act as amended, the authority shall have powers to make ordinances of the Authority that are not inconsistent with the Constitution or any other law made by Parliament.
The ordinance seeks to achieve, among others, registration of boda boda operators, gazetting and registration of all stages, monthly road user fees, formation of cooperative unions, registration of all online boda boda associations, gazetting stages and issuance of operational licenses, and election of an apex body for all cyclists.
We must also tackle the boda boda issue alongside the taxi issue because they are the most public transport means in the city. Concentrating on only boda boda will leave a very big administrative gap in the entire transport sector and cause more confusion.
Mr Kennedy Okello is KCCA’s minister of works and physical planning.