Boda boda cyclists under their umbrella Boda Boda Association demand an end to President Museveni’s directive to have them only transport cargo.
Kira Municipality Boda Boda riders have tasked President Museveni to revise the directive ordering all cyclists to only transport cargo and no passengers because of the ongoing coronavirus.
Earlier, this week during his recent address to the nation, President Museveni yet again stressed that boda bodas will remain operational but only transporting cargo because it is inevitable for them to observe physical distancing.
However, in the wake of events, the cyclists have come out to demand the government revise this directive because it has hindered them financially more so those who rely on the sole business to look after themselves and their families.
According to Julius Byarugaba, the speaker of the Boda Boda Association which represents over 2,000 cyclists there is a rapid increase in domestic violence arising from the fact that many men can no longer perform duties of taking care of their families.
Byarugaba who was first to seek a meeting with President Museveni stressed that he wants to enable him to understand how they have prepared to observe guidelines in place to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Yesterday, the boda boda association petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Hon Rebecca Kadaga requesting her to put forward their complaints among others seeking to allow them to transport passengers but following guidelines.
As Uganda still battles to defeat the novel coronavirus, Museveni on Monday said that physical distancing is an important prevention strategy and yet the cyclists and passengers are always nearby during travel which makes it hard for them to re-operate.
Secondly, he said that Uganda has now transitioned from imported cases to phase three of the epidemic, with the epicentres in the districts of Amuru, Kyotera and Buikwe meaning that contracting the virus might even be easier.
Museveni also explained that the boda bodas don’t use traditional and gazetted routes like main roads or feeder roads and If allowed to transport people at this stage of the epidemic, it might result to further spread with complexity in tracking cases and contacts, given a large number of people they transport and penetrating the society and reaching where the vehicles do not reach.
On the use of mitigation measures by some boda bodas such as putting a barrier between the passenger and rider to prevent contact, the President stressed that this might pose an additional risk of hurting the rider and passenger in case of an accident.
“The innovation of introducing the barrier is applauded. However, there is a need to review the risks and provide further guidance through SOPs. The innovations will be reviewed by the MOH in consultation with the ministry for transport and the Boda Bodas Association. In the interim, they should continue with only the transportation of goods”.
“The materials used for the barrier could also increase risk of COVID-19 transmission since some materials maintain the viability of the virus longer,” the President said during his Monday address to the nation.
As a way forward, he suggested that Ugandans should learn to walk to their homes because it is even a safer means than the boda bodas.