Hundreds of Bodaboda Riders Turn Up for CEPA, SWRW Road Safety Workshop

Boboda riders demonstrating causes of road crashes at SWRW and CEPA event

It was a day painted green, and action packed as Safe Way Right Way (SWRW) and Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA) held bodaboda-led sensitization workshop to mark the United Nations- UN Global Road Safety Week.

The event held at Club Obligato in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, attracted hundreds of commercial motorcycle riders who religiously listened to road safety messages delivered by SWRW, CEPA, Road Safety Advocacy Coalition Uganda –ROSACU, police and government officials.

Motorcyclists donned in green reflector jackets provided by SWRW and CEPA demonstrated the various causes of road crashes that include pedestrians crossing roads while speaking on mobile phone, the impatient bodaboda riders, disrespect of other road users, reckless riding, and driving.

The chief guest, Minister for Kampala, Hajjat Minsa Kabanda, excited the attendees when she arrived on a commercial motorcycle. Kabanda said her arrival on a bodaboda was a gesture that it is an important job which needs to be streamlined in order to make it safe for those surviving on it a source of income and those who use it as a mode of transport.

Kabanda said many bodaboda riders abuse traffic lights, overload school children, and also ride recklessly. She also castigated riders who use intoxicators such as khat, opium, marijuana and alcohol while in conducting commercial motorcycle business.

“Many of you don’t respect traffic lights. Whether it shows rea, yellow or green you don’t care. Some of you have participated in mob justice. You beat people. Some of you abuse drugs. If you’re to drink alcohol, do it at your home after work. If you are organized you can access many important people for financial assistance,” Kabanda said.

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Fred Tumwine, the ROSACU Chairman, said the coalition’s dream is seeing a reduction in road crashes. He said if all stakeholders ranging from civil society, government ministries, agencies and departments, bodaboda riders, commercial and private vehicles as well as the police worked together, there would be a tremendous decreased in the figures of young people dying or getting injured every day.

Globally, more than 1.3 million people die in road crashes every year. In Uganda, traffic police figures for last year show, 12 people died every day. This was an increase from 10 people who perish on roads every day.

Winston Katushabe, the commissioner for transport at the ministry of works and transport, said the government loses four to five trillion shillings every year in treating victims of road crashes who are majorly bodaboda riders or their passengers.

Katushabe said the government would intensify training of all commercial motorcycle riders working alongside civil society. He also warned driving schools that charge over a million shillings to train riders and other drivers.

Bodaboda riders led by Kanyike Kiviri said they were being witch-hunted by police that impound their motorcycles even for small reasons. The riders said police actions force them not to stop even at traffic lights because they know they be arrested and their motorcycles get impounded at the same spots.

However, Superintendent of Police –SP Justin Opus, said he often sees bodaboda riders abusing traffic lights even at spots where there are no police officers. Opus added that many motorcyclists do not care whether it is a one way. “They just ride and thus cause road crashes and traffic chaos.”

Geoffrey Ochen, Kabanda and Katushabe extoled SWRW for helmet sensitization saying many people would not have died or sustained lifelong injuries if they were wearing crash helmets. Ochen said although he lost his right arm in a motorcycle crash at Kalagala-Mpigi, he survived death because he was wearing a crash helmet.

“We’re returning from the burial of our colleague in Masaka. We returned competing against each other and I ended up knocking my friend who was in front of me. He did not fall but I fell on the tarmac. The speeding vehicle knocked off my right arm. The car could have crashed my head too but I was saved by the helmet,” Ochen said.

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