Technocrats from the transport ministry and Makerere University are engaging bodaboda riders on the efficacy of the anti-COVID-19 passenger shield, which many riders have mounted on their bikes to enable them resume public transport services.
According to the works ministry spokesperson, Suzan Kataike, the report on safety of the passenger shield will be released today Wednesday.
If the report gives a nod to the passenger shield innovation, bodaboda operators anticipate that they will resume the transportation of people.
In his recent address to the nation, President Yoweri Museveni welcomed the innovation of the passenger shield that is mounted on the motorbike to prevent contact between the rider and passenger, but added that it needed to be studied, in regard to the safety of the passenger in case of an accident.
Since March 18, the President has issued a raft of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The Government has also eased some measures, including the reopening of public transport, provided they operate at half-capacity. Museveni, however, restricted bodaboda riders to only carrying cargo and food, a move that the riders say has pushed them out of business.
In anticipation that they would be allowed to resume transporting passengers, bodaboda riders created a transparent shield.
However, commenting about the safety of the bodabodas in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Museveni said: “Bodabodas, if allowed to transport people at this stage of the pandemic, may lead to further spread, with complexity in tracking cases and contacts,”
Compared to commuter taxis, the President added, boda bodas reach deep into communities and that there are no safeguards to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) says the boda boda business employs about 120,000 people within the central business district.
The road safety report of 2018 also indicates that there are over 405,124 boda bodas operating in Kampala, a city whose day population is about five million and two million by night.
To regulate the transport means of the Kampala population, the Minister for Kampala, Betty Amongi, recently launched the registration of taxis, buses and boda bodas.
“The Government is in the process of reforming the boda boda industry. This entails gazetting of stages and creation of a boda boda-free zone in the central business district. Until then, boda bodas continue to carry luggage and maintain the curfew time as per the presidential directive,” Amongi said.
She added: “Boda bodas play a critical role in transporting a good number of people in the city, but they need to be regulated to enhance the safety of the public. The Government is finalising the extent of a boda boda free-zone and the gazetting of boda boda stages in the city.
“Future boda boda operations will also be subjected to standard operating procedures and their return to the city will be communicated in due course.”
Some bodaboda operators, such as Joel Bagenda who works at Shoprite Lugogo stage in Kampala, argue that by restricting them to cargo/foodstuff, the Government has pushed them into the poverty.
“We welcome the registration process, but the Government should accept our shield innovation so that we can carry passengers as they work on the regulations.
“Ninety percent of our money is derived from passengers,” he said.
(Credit New Vision)