By Steven Enatu
A company that purported to be giving motorcycle loans to boda boda riders has ended up defrauding hundreds of Soroti residents with its directors now on the run.
Yesterday 4th October, 2021 angry hundreds of boda boda riders stormed the office of the Resident City Commissioner Soroti city seeking clarification on the whereabouts of Savannah motorcycle lending company directors.
The riders accuse Savannah of having coned money from over two hundred boda boda riders in Soroti and Teso at large.
According Denis Eseun one of the victims, he paid 500,000ugx to the company with all the necessary credentials and was promised to get the motorcycle yesterday 4th October. To his utter shock, the company’s office in Soroti City West, Pamba Ward wass locked and all numbers that were on the company’s brochure are not reachable (03933248465 /0776001597).
He said he sold a bull from his home thinking that he would get the motorcycle on loan so as to enable him change his livelihood but now his hopes and plans hung in balance.
“They advertised on one of the top local radio stations in Soroti here and they were moving with our chairman boda boda riders in Soroti Richard Ochuli, so we thought they were legit. We were paying an initial deposit of 500,000 UGX that was supposed to be followed by a weekly deposit of 62, 5000 for two years. We submitted letters from the Local council one chairperson, Passports etc., their office was well they even had language translators,” he said.
With this hard hit economic situation worsened by the covid-19 pandemic, the distressed looking Katy Ikiso, a mother of 5 children says she sold her pigs to pay the 500,000ugx with hope that the motorcycle would be making her money on a daily basis as she saves and also pays the loan.
“I sold my piglets, I am sleeping hungry with my children and these tricksters have run with our money. We came today like they had promised to bring the motorcycle today but their offices are locked and the numbers do not go through, no one is communicating to us. I feel so bad even our leaders here know this because they are the ones who clear and give these people the licenses,” she said.
Joseph Osilon from Asuret blames leaders for these fraudsters who come taking advantage of the already vulnerable communities.
Ben Otal just like many others sold his only bull but now his fate of getting the motorcycle is too slim since the numbers of the company do not go through. He paid also 500,000ugx.
Meanwhile, the chairperson boda boda riders in Soroti, Richard Ochuli says that the company had all the documents indicating that they were fully registered and licensed to do the business in Soroti.
He says the information also reached him through the boda boda riders who sought clarification from him about the company.
“I went to the company’s office and they gave me the certificate of registration and also the licenses to trade by the city authority making it look legit, so I tried telling some boda boda riders to be vigilant not to pay money before seeing the motorcycles but many never listened to my advice,” he said.
Boda boda is the most popular means of transportation in Uganda employing thousands of unemployed youth who mostly get motorcycles on loan from the Baja Lending institutions for example in Soroti there is Tugende, Asak and Centenary Bank.
However there have been numerous complaints in Soroti of some unscrupulous companies that come and dupe people purporting to be genuine Bajaj Lending institutions as well then disappear with their monies. This happens amidst awareness of the leaders who even give trading licenses to such unscrupulous companies.
An ex-leader at the local government level says they usually consider the revenue part of it but not the authenticity of an organization or a company that comes to do business in the area.
By press time, Resident City Commissioner Soroti City, Peter Pex Paak had told the boda bodas to photocopy the agreement letters with the said company and the receipts for case opening at Soroti Central Police Station.