Boda-Boda – Travelling in Uganda #2

The motorbike taxis are the fastest way to get around in Kampala. With over 100,000 boda-boda serving in Kampala, it is also difficult to avoid them. And their benefit is obvious: they are the only means when you want to avoid getting stuck in traffic jams. But foreign governments as well as well-meaning Ugandans strongly warn tourists (and locals) about using them.

Uganda road deaths toll is about twice the average of its African peers with Boda-boda accidents as a leading cause of injury and death. Passengers rarely wear a helmet, drivers may do so some time, and as a result boda-boda accidents make up around 80% of the trauma cases in the Othopedic unit at the main National Referral Government Hospital, Mulago.. The traffic Police has been criticized for being inconsistent in implementing road safety regulations. For local entrepreneurs this is nevertheless an essential transportation mean: either to move around, to get goods from one place to the others, or as couriers. It is also a source of income for many people: either as driver, or as owner of motorcycles, renting out their bikes to drivers.

When I’m in Uganda, every now and then, when walking is too strenuous, or when I don’t know my way around I would take one. I would ask the driver to drive slowly, saying that I’m not used to boda-bodas (nothing surprises them coming from a muzungu – white person)). Once I got the question: “You don’t have boda-bodas in your country. How do you get around in the streets?” “Well we walk, take a train or drive” I told him, but I’m not sure he believed his crazy, foreign passenger. Different countries, different transportation means! – Author: Karin Stumpf

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