The E-Trade Association of Uganda, an umbrella organization that converges companies and organizations that use the power of the internet to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in Uganda, has asked the government to lift the ban on 7 PM curfew for motorcycle taxis (commonly known as boda boda) to enable access to affordable transportation mobility for all Ugandans.
The E-Trade Association recognizes and appreciates the great work of the government and the Covid-19 task force in containing the pandemic. It is because of the bold, timely, and decisive government actions and the sacrifice of Ugandan citizens and businesses that deaths from Covid-19, primarily the Delta variant, remained very low by any local or global measure.
The Association greatly welcomes the pragmatism of the January opening of schools, the future human capital of this great nation, and the full opening of key sectors of the economy. The opening of the economy gives Uganda a good chance at recovering from the dire economic strain that the restrictions placed on people due to Covid-19 risks.
The current 7 PM curfew on boda bodas, leaves the Association asking many questions:
- How will the majority of Ugandans who rely on boda bodas get home at 9 PM after work?
- How will factory workers who work the late shift get home?
- Will supermarkets stay open late?
Less than 1% of Ugandans own a car so this is not an option and taxis coverage past 7 PM is very limited and unsafe for users to walk from a taxi stage and reach the door of their home late hours after work. The answer to these questions is clear; boda boda transportation provides a safer, efficient, affordable, convenient, last-mile, and door-to-door, service country-wide.
Banning Boda Bodas after 7 PM will therefore make the journey back home on foot at night very dangerous for all Ugandans especially women, the elderly, and the disabled.
Owomugisha Blessing Immaculate, the Ag. Secretary-General at Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “Keeping the boda boda industry under restricted movement (curfew) when the economy has finally opened up after two years is a disservice to the business community that heavily relies on it as a primary facilitator for their business engagement in regards to the ease of movement of goods, services, and personnel from one place to another.”
Owomugisha further adds that “The government should therefore reconsider its directives and instead train and emphasize the good practices on motorcycles operations in addition to the establishment of a well-updated database on commercial motorcycle activities for their sustainability and a regulated legal framework to the aspirations of the operators, customers, and other road users,”
As a representative of businesses large and small, the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry stated that the boda boda industry is the second largest employer in Uganda after Agriculture and it provides a livelihood for close to seven million citizens in Uganda who would otherwise be engaged in illegal and illicit activities. They further said the industry is also largely considered one of the cheapest and most effective modes of transport that facilitate business engagement, thus, calling on the government to reconsider its directives on the boda curfew.
Research has indicated that the boda boda industry has revolutionized the Ugandan economy by bridging the gap of unemployment, especially in the youth today.
In Uganda, motorcycles enable millions of people to have the chance to participate in the economy every day which includes; getting to the market, delivering supplies, getting home after work, visiting friends, getting to a meeting on time, among others. The sector is very important, directly employing over 1.2 million people [mostly the youth].
Boda bodas enable many small and medium scale businesses such as restaurants, bars, gyms, and supermarkets to stay open late because employers are assured that there is an affordable last-mile means of transportation that their employees can use to get home safely.
A boda boda rider in Kawempe said, “Ever since the curfew was imposed, the best I could do was get daily food for my family, which many times has been quite difficult with the curfew restrictions. Now that schools and the economy have reopened, I still do not know how I am going to take care of children when the situation has not changed for me.” He continues to say “I was hopeful when the President announced that the economy would be open this year. I knew all would be well because I would go back to making some money from my customers especially the party-goers. Now I am left wondering where will I get money to support my family if we still have a curfew imposed on us.” “I wonder what boda bodas did to the government,” he concludes.
The E-Trade Association of Uganda has started a petition, CLICK HERE TO SIGN, together with its partners calling upon the business community, regulators, and general public to participate in the petition to end the 7 PM curfew for boda bodas.
“We seek to engage government decision-makers to consider allowing economic growth and prosperity by lifting the ban on transportation. As an Association with a deep understanding of business and employment, we believe this can only be achieved if the government removes the 7 PM boda curfew to enable access to affordable transportation mobility for all Ugandans,” the Association said in a statement.