By Frank Kamuntu
Kampala: The State Minister for Works and Transport, Hon. Joy Kabatsi, yesterday informed Parliament of the guidelines that boda boda riders and passengers should follow before they are allowed to operate.
Kabatsi was presenting a statement on the various petitions on the plight of boda boda operators in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown where she noted that Boda-boda operators shall maintain the statutory requirements operating commercial motorcycles.
“Operators shall have a valid operator’s licence, allowing them to carry passengers; valid driving licence with Group A; valid third party insurance and the motorcycle should be in good mechanical condition,” she said.
She added that there were other health requirements that the riders and passengers needed to fulfill before they were fully operational.
“Boda boda riders at all times shall wear a face mask covering nose and mouth and they must have a safety helmet; all passengers shall have a facemask covering nose and mouth and encouraged to use face shields. The riders are advised to disinfect the jackets and boda boda at the beginning and end of the trip and maintain the basic safety precautions, and they shall carry strictly one passenger at a time,” Kabatsi said.
The minister informed the House that the two metre social distancing shall be maintained while at the stage and inspection of motorcycles for road worthiness has been extended up to 31 December 2020.
However, hon. Kabatsi informed Parliament that the bodabodas would only operate after the Presidential address scheduled for later on today.
Hon. Maurice Kibalya (NRM, Bugabula County South) asked: “I would like to get clarity if the minister has allowed the boda bodas to move? Secondly, action has been taken but the motorcycles have not been returned to the owners. So, how will they move?” he asked.
Hon. Reagan Okumu, (IND. Aswa County) wondered whether the ministry has the manpower to check all the motorcycles across the country despite its several guidelines.
“The minister came with a lot of measures but do they have the capacity to make sure that all the motorcycles are checked for compliance/ inspection all over the country? And why don’t they increase the curfew from 5pm to 7pm because at 5pm, they have just started working,” he said.
Hon. Abdulatif Sebaggala (IND, Kawempe Division North), said that the riders have been in lockdown for four months and they need to start work in order to pay up their loans which are overdue.
“The issue of boda bodas has been a concern of everyone. I do request that without delay, they should buy their masks and go on the road and start working so that they can be able to pay up their loans and feed their families. And I also suggest that the curfew time should be extended,” he said.
The Speaker said that when dealing with the boda bodas, the government should not only look at Kampala but other districts that do not have any other means of transport but boda bodas.
“These boda bodas are mostly used in upcountry districts, and not here in Kampala. Let us be humane; these citizens need to get on with their lives. Let us also revise the curfew from 5pm to 7pm since when they are supposed to stop is actually the peak time,” Kadaga added.