Bundibugyo, Uganda | URN | Boda boda riders in Bundibugyo town in the Western Region of Uganda are demanding an extension of the nighttime curfew hours.
While announcing the full reopening of the economy on December 31, 2021, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said boda bodas would continue operating between 5:30 AM and 7:00 PM because criminal elements use them to commit crime under the cover of darkness.
The riders argue that it is absolutely prejudicial to deny them an opportunity to work when other transporters are working. The riders say that they are struggling to pay off loans they acquired in the last two years amidst the COVID-19 restrictions.
They claim that people who don’t have private means of transport are also closing their businesses earlier before boda bodas stop their operations. The riders also argue that some of them transport day-scholars who leave school after 6:00 PM.
Abubakar Musoke, the chairperson of Bundibugyo boda boda rider’s association, says that a number of riders have lost their properties due to accumulated debts as a result of limited resources to pay up.
He claims that boda boda business usually flourishes in the morning and evening hours. He condemned the police brutality and high handedness used to arrest their members found riding past the curfew hours.
Dickson Turigye, a boda boda rider in Bundibugyo town, says that they want an extension of the nighttime curfew from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM so that they can also cash in on persons who stay in town doing business at night.
Patrick Muhumuza, another rider says that in the last year, over 20 riders have had their motorcycles confiscated by Tugende for failure to service their loans. He says that they are harassed by police officers enforcing the guidelines, who sometimes extort money from them.
Latif Bwambale, who has been in the boda boda business for close to 10 years argues restricting their business when the economy has finally opened is a disservice to the business community that heavily relies on them.
Amos Banghi, the Bundibugyo Resident District Commissioner (RDC) says that his office has not yet received any reports on the police brutality directed at the riders. He has promised to intervene in the matter, saying that he cannot look on as people are tortured.
The RDC, who met the riders on Tuesday asked them to corporate with the security agencies and promised to meet the security officers to discuss the issue of police brutality.
There is growing demand from a number of sectors demanding the lifting of the curfew on boda bodas. E-Trade Association, an umbrella organization that converges companies and organizations that use the power of the internet to create jobs in Uganda have been urging the government to ease the COVID-19 restrictions on boda bodas and allow them to operate beyond 7:00 PM.
The association says the move will ease transportation for Ugandans. The association says the boda boda sub-sector employs over 1.2 million people.