Nambalirwa lives to make history in Ugandan cycling

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Nambalirwa lives to make history in Ugandan cycling
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Earlier this year, Aisha Nambalirwa, defied the odds and took a significant step towards realizing her dream by joining eBee Uganda, an e-mobility company.

Through this connection, she ventured into food delivery with Glovo, becoming the sole woman in this male-dominated field.

Determined to make history as Uganda's first female cycling medalist, Nambalirwa embarked on her journey with unwavering determination.

Speaking to the Nile Post, Nambalirwa expressed her strong resolve in defying societal norms and overcoming obstacles in her quest to become Uganda's first female cycling medalist.

"Since childhood, I have been a cyclist. I have participated in races and other cycling events. During one of my training sessions, I saw a boy riding an electric bike. I admired it and asked him how I could acquire one,” she says.

Intrigued by the possibilities, she sought guidance from the young boy and learned that obtaining such a bike was within reach through employment with eBee.

Nambalirwa's journey has been marked by resilience and perseverance. Despite her education halting at Senior Four, she has always harboured a deep passion for cycling, a passion that she has nurtured since childhood.

"My dream since childhood was to be a cyclist and become the first lady in Uganda to bring home a cycling medal. I was inspired by my cousin," she explained.

With her sights set on making history as Uganda's first female cycling medalist, Nambalirwa embarked on her journey with unwavering determination.

However, her path has not been without challenges. She recounted facing discrimination and harassment from some boda boda riders as she navigates the streets amidst traffic and poor road conditions.

"Some of the challenges I have faced include disturbance and discrimination from some of the boda boda riders. Another challenge is the unsafe traffic and poor roads, especially as a woman. If I delay on the road, clients often complain," Nambalirwa shared.

Despite these adversities, Nambalirwa remains resolute, driven by her desire to provide a better future for her daughter.

A recent accident served as a stark reminder of the dangers that accompany her profession, highlighting the urgent need for improved road infrastructure.

Nevertheless, Nambalirwa's spirit remains undaunted, fueled by her commitment to hard work and self-reliance.

"Through this job, I have made a lot of friends, and I am still meeting other influential people. I have chosen to be hardworking because, as a single mother, I don't want to rely on others for everything,” she noted.

Throughout her journey, Nambalirwa has forged connections and encountered mentors like Jemimah Nalumansi, the Initiative Coordinator of the Bloomberg Road Safety Project at the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

Nalumansi's support has been instrumental in Nambalirwa's pursuit of excellence.

As she continues to defy stereotypes and break barriers, Nambalirwa calls upon other women to join her in embracing opportunities for financial independence and empowerment.

"I believe women should learn how to earn their own money and stop relying on men all the time. I encourage women to join me, ride the bike, and earn a living. I am focusing on providing a good education for my daughter and fulfilling her dreams,” she urged.

Nambalirwa also appealed to the government to prioritize road safety and infrastructure development.

Beyond her personal aspirations, she envisions a future where her own company can provide opportunities for young girls to pursue their dreams fearlessly.

Nalumansi, the initiative coordinator of the Bloomberg Road Safety Project at the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), emphasised the need for inclusive roads that cater to all users, not just cars.

"The most important thing is to ensure that the roads are inclusive, including for vulnerable road users. If inclusivity is not prioritized, we will always face problems," she said.

Nalumansi's journey towards advocating for safer roads took an unexpected turn when she encountered Nanbalirwa during her daily commute.

"Her situation is unique, and I got to know that she was doing deliveries. I met her two months ago, and after a month, I met her again,” she shared.

Intrigued by Nambalirwa's resilience and determination amidst the challenges of navigating Kampala's streets, Nalumansi embarked on a mission to understand the realities faced by vulnerable road users firsthand.

Nalumansi has actively engaged with Nambalirwa and other delivery riders, gaining valuable insights into the obstacles they face on a daily basis.

Reflecting on her experience, Nalumansi emphasized that road safety initiatives must prioritize inclusivity, ensuring that the needs of all road users, especially vulnerable ones like cyclists and pedestrians, are met.

"It is crucial for those in charge to make sure that the roads are safe for everyone. Roads should not be built solely for cars. There are various means of transportation, and the roads should accommodate them all," she explained.

She underscored the importance of designing roads with diverse modes of transportation in mind, rather than solely catering to cars.

According to Nalumansi, inclusivity is not just a matter of convenience but a fundamental aspect of road safety. Failure to prioritise inclusivity can lead to persistent challenges and safety concerns for vulnerable road users.

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