By Don Muzaphal Kimbugwe
Today, the cost of transport from Najjera to town is 6,000 UGX, a 4,000 UGX increase from 2,000 UGX before Covid19. The return trip is 10,000 UGX, making the entire trip 16,000 UGX. When in town, the easiest option of moving around right now is an Uber which can cost about 5,000 UGX per kilometre. Chances are that when Boda Bodas start to operate, they will charge more than they have always charged.
If you miss a taxi and opt for an Uber from Najjera, making it to the CBD can cost upto 25,000 UGX and to Ntinda, it can cost upto 15,000 UGX.
More costs can be involved in moving around town, which demands cost effective, quick, and efficient means of transport. This makes boda bodas really necessary. For example, if one is to move from Uganda House to Mabirizi Complex, a boda boda is just 1,000 UGX. If one is to move from Kampala Road to Mukwano Arcade of Ham shopping grounds, it can cost them 2,000 UGX to 3,000 UGX.
In town also, there are areas where one cannot access commutor taxis, making boda bodas really important for enabling mobility within town.
However, today I have gotten news, as you all have, that boda bodas have been banned in the Kampala CBD, in areas marked on the map below.
This then begs the question, who are in charge of such a development in the state of transportation in Kampala City? What measures have been put in place to ensure that where there are no boda bodas, people can still move around if they don’t have personal vehicles?
One might argue that there will be buses, but given the current state of roads in Kampala, there still remains a mobility problem that is not resolved. After spending 2 hours from Najjera to Kampala, and having to spend upto 3 hours on the return trip, one has already lost 5 hours in a day. So, why should they then have to further face mobility challenges in the CBD, where clearly they are expected to walk?
Someone might talk of alternative means of transport, for example bicycles but is it not near impossible for anyone expecting to have meetings in town to ride a bicycle from Kireka or Bweyogerere to Kampala CBD?
Does Kampala have public bicycles for hire within the CBD? For example, can I hire a public bicycle in Kamwokya, ride it to parliament, and leave it at a KCCA bicycle station on Parliamentary avenue? That way, mobility can be flexible, and we can have alternative means like cycling as part of a hybrid approach, saving time and perhaps money.
In a nutshell, I think that this boda boda ban is yet another approach that has not been given enough thought, one that has consequences for Kampala dwellers that have not been given due consideration.
Today we have pioneer buses in their hundreds parked in Namboole just because when they were introduced, so much was at stake and it was not given due consideration. The same seems to be just a ticking time bomb waiting to explode here.
We will have to talk about the state of security and cleanliness of the city. For example won’t pickpockets have a field day? How safe is it to ride a bicycle or walk in these areas marked on the map past 7PM? Can one walk from Kitante to public service and not look like they are from digging a grave?
Can’t we just adopt the Kigali model, organise the boda boda trade, have proper and practical operational guidelines, and not ban boda bodas from the CBD entirely?
The writer Don Muzaphal Kimbugwe is the founder of Willapps Ltd, a tech company. He works in Kampala and is a user of public transport