During his speech on 31st December 2021, President Museveni fully reopened some sectors while maintaining a curfew on boda boda riders whose operations are to be limited up till 7pm over security related concerns.
Today on The Fatboy Show, Co-founder of Safeboda Ricky Rapa Thomson, while in an interview with RX Radio’s Olive Najjuma, said that keeping boda bodas under lockdown came as a shock to them, since the sector is the second largest employer in the country and has a direct connection to other sectors that were fully reopened.
“Boda bodas account for over 2 million jobs taken by young people in the sector ranging from the importers, the sellers of the motorcycles, sellers of spare parts and mechanics, which is a large chain of people in the industry,” he said.
He continued that the boda boda business is directly intertwined with other smaller businesses in downtown Kampala, such as restaurants and shops that depend on them for making deliveries and transportation of clients; hence the perplexion on how the businesses would fully operate without them.
In relation to the criminal concerns, Thomson maintained that thugs are known to exploit available opportunities to carry out their activities such as fast cars in South Africa and in Uganda, motorcycles.
However, while commenting on the President’s move to curb crime, he said attention should be given to the number of jobs the sector provides for citizens, adding that, “ Look at the over 10 million people that directly benefit from the industry. We just need t o have clear policies and regulations that make the industry safer and better for everybody,” he advised.
He explained that the sector had joined hands with other key players such as UBL, the media and Buganda Kingdom to lead vaccination campaigns, sensitizing people about Covid-19 and vaccination; adding that in a similar way, they could work with security agencies to flash out the criminal actors in their system.
“Because the reality is if you have opened ebivulu (concerts) and bars, how will people be able to go to bars and back home without boda bodas? How? Because there’s no transport means in Uganda that can take people up to their door steps. Also, in many places where people live, cars are unable to reach so there’s no way the night economy, and the other sectors including the media can fully function without boda bodas.”
Moreso, he argued that the lack of an organized system officiating the business makes it a free entry and exit for anyone to join, including criminals. ‘The pandemic and 20 months of lockdown saw a lot of people, especially the youth, tremendously join the business. Both the educated and unemployed made it a viable employment opportunity to survive on.”
Thomson said that not only has the continued lockdown on the sector affected the profits of the business since 2020, but there was no government intervention to support them with any relief for them to survive.
However, he noted that having round table discussions on how to streamline the operations of the sector and regulation of its activities should be prioritized to fight against inside crime and get the riders fully back to their jobs.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive, Sarah and Lesham every weekday from 6am to 10am on RX Radio.