Kyotera, Uganda | URN | The affordable prices of fuel in the neighboring Tanzania is enticing boda boda riders operating in areas around Mutukula town council in Kyotera district to shun Ugandan petrol stations.
A number of Ugandan boda boda riders are regularly crossing the border to fuel their motorcycles from Tanzania fuel pumps where the prices are lower compared to Uganda hence enabling them make more profits.
Yafesi Nninze, the chairperson of Mutukula Border Boda Boda Riders Association says the prices in Tanzania are more affordable compared to the cost back home which attracts them to cross the border for fuel.
While the Ugandan fuel stations in Mutukula town council sell a liter of petrol at Shs 3,700, an equivalent of USD 1.01, the same quantity of fuel goes for Tshs 1,981 (USD-0.855), translating to Shs 3,131 making a difference of about UGX 569.
Nninze says that a difference of Shs 570 per liter of fuel is reasonable savings to a boda boda rider and is enough to attract them into Tanzania.
He explains that majority of them are replenishing their motorcycle fuel tanks from Tanzania, from which they make reasonable earnings up from what they could make if they fueled from Uganda.
John Bosco Ssemundu, another boda boda operator at Mutukula indicates that even other noncommercial hire motorcycle riders from the neighboring trading centers located in a radius of 10 kilometers prefer fueling from Tanzania over the apparent difference in prices.
He adds that besides what they describe as affordable fuel prices, they are also attracted by the favorable working environment in Tanzania, where they are allowed to freely operate throughout unlike on the Ugandan side where security authorities are enforcing COVID-19 curfew restrictions.
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A standard bajaj bike full tank is 9 litres, but it can take in 10 litres enabling the rider who fuels in Tanzania to save 5,700 per fill which can take him for a week.
However, Peter Kazungu, an attendant at the Mount Meru fuel station at Mutukula says the costs of operations in Tanzania are also lower compared to Uganda, hence the slight difference in fuel prices.
He also indicated that the boda boda riders could largely be enticed by habits of smuggling of goods between the two countries, arguing that the difference in fuel prices is used as a cover-up.