How SafeBoda is Bridging The Boda Boda Digitization Gap

The government of Uganda is taking cognizance of the need to embrace technology and innovation in organizing public transportation, specifically boda bodas.

SafeBoda is revolutionizing transportation, payments, and on-demand services at a click of a button using a consumer services app, which not only offers ride-hailing services but allows users to make and receive payments via mobile money. The riders receive extensive training to make them the safest on the streets.

In her statement, SafeBoda Country Director Catherine Tulina Kafumbe said “The central pillar of the digital economy is the concept of hyper-connectivity, a growing interconnectedness of people, organizations, and machines made possible by the Internet and mobile technology. Several businesses, like SafeBoda, reflect this digital economy.”

The data gathered during the onboarding process combined with the use of the app enables traceability which enhances security. The biggest advantage of being app based is that drivers receive online trip requests from a customer anywhere within their radius while traditional stage-based drivers solely rely on passengers finding them at the designated stage. This brings convenience to both drivers and their customers.

Beyond private sector players, the government is also increasingly taking cognizance of the need to embrace technology and innovation in organizing public transportation, specifically boda-bodas. Take for instance, the Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) is creating a mobile phone application to register all boda-boda riders operating within the Central Business District.

According to the Deputy Director of KCCA Eng. David Luyimbazi Ssali, the mobile app will enable stage leaders/chairpersons to register their riders and each leader will be accountable for any challenges faced by the authority with their riders.

It is believed that this will increase responsible riding by driving compliance since all incidents involving boda-bodas within Kampala shall be traceable.

Further to KCCA’s Streamlining Action Plan, it will be mandatory for each rider to be registered under the 445 gazetted stages around Kampala. The rider and their motorcycle must have PSV, driving license, third party, protective gear like helmet, and reflector jacket, among others.

Upon compliance with the requirements, KCCA will register the rider and the rider will receive a QR code using which all their activity on the road may be traced. Trite to note though that currently, there are over 2,500 stages in Kampala and implementation of KCCA’s plan will lead to the loss of stages to thousands of riders.

While the transition of affected riders can be managed by boarding them onto already existing hailing platforms like SafeBoda, there are regulatory challenges that need to be addressed. Currently, it’s still mandatory for all boda-boda riders to be registered to a designated physical stage despite the advancement of technology and innovation as demonstrated by ride-hailing companies and their app-based riders.

It is also yet to be seen whether the implementation of KCCA’s streamlining action plan shall involve improved monitoring to ensure compliance with road safety regulations. Un-checked non-compliance not only increases security, safety, and sanity challenges but also creates unfair competition between app-based riders and traditional riders.

This results from the fact that app-based trips are monitored by the app and therefore riders must strictly comply with both the general road safety regulations and the terms and conditions of using the app. For instance, riders must only carry one passenger per trip.

Traditional riders on the other hand have the liberty to negotiate with customers and carry as many passengers as they can for an extra charge for a trip of the same distance taken by an app-based rider. This continues to happen despite the fact that carrying more than one passenger is against road safety regulations.

Needless to say, such reckless driving and a disregard for road safety regulations contribute to the number of accidents, causing injuries and even fatalities. The lack of traceability further makes it difficult for the police to identify and hold the reckless rider accountable.

Such anonymity challenges also have an impact on the management of investigations into crimes involving unregistered bodaboda riders.



Joan Banura

Joan Banura is an aspiring journalist with a passion for all things tech. She is committed to providing insightful and thought-provoking content that keeps our readers informed and engaged.
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