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Boda Boda Riders Petition Gov’t Over Covid-19 Restrictions

Following the continued restrictions on boda boda riders, cyclists under their association the National Federation of Professional Cyclists Association (NFPC) have petitioned the government of Uganda to court for stopping them from carrying passengers as one of the preventive measures of COVId-19.

The boda boda riders argue in their court application that Government’s failure to allow them carry passengers while other transport means are ferrying people is deliberate and unacceptable in a free and democratic society.

The Boda Bodas also say that this act is an infringement on their right to equality and freedom from discrimination contrary to Article 21(2) and 43 (2) of the 1995 Constitution.

In an affidavit sworn Kagaba Fred(one of the applicants), on Monday, July 6 he says that boda bodas don’t pose higher chances of spreading Covid-19 than other means like buses and private cars which carry more than one passenger.

“Boda boda people have lost and continue losing their source of livelihood and their dependants,” Kagaba says.

“In alternative to the above, we seek an order directing the government to make provision concessions and arrangements for the welfare and well being of people engaged in boda boda business during the lockdown.” The application letter from the Boda Boda’s association reads in part.

The Boda Boda cyclists have further asked court to declare that Government’s action of ordering boda boda riders not to carry passengers without any arrangement put in place to cater for their welfare is contrary to Article 99 (3) of the 1995 constitution.

While addressing the nation in his Sixteenth adresss about the status Covid-19 pandemic in the country, President Yoweri Museveni said it was not yet time to open the Boda Boda industry. He, thus, advised them to continue carrying cargo as they had been doing before.

“The Boda Boda business is one that relies of transportation of goods and people. The Boda Boda riders and passengers are in close proximity during travel. Yet, physical distancing is an important prevention strategy for COVID 19,” Museveni said.

“Secondly, Uganda has transitioned from imported cases to phase 3 of the epidemic, with the epicentres in the districts of Amuru, Kyotera and Buikwe. Further, the boda bodas don’t use traditional/gazetted routes like main roads or feeder roads. Boda Bodas, if
allowed to transport people at this stage of the epidemic, may lead to further spread with complexity in tracking cases and contacts, given the large number of people they transport and penetrating the society
and reaching where the vehicles do not reach,” he added.

New Barrier Between The Rider And Passenger is Innovated By Boda Boda Riders

New challenges call for new technology. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Boda Boda riders innovated a barrier on the Boda boda’s to positioned between the rider and the passenger as a mechanism of fighting the Covid-19 disease.

This, however, to Museveni was not called for, the President, in his June, 26 speech expressed fears of embracing a new technology that was not tested yet.

“People, walking to their homes is safer than the bodabodas spreading with passengers in the community. The mitigation measures like putting a barrier between the passenger and rider to prevent contact may pose an additional risk of hurting the rider/passenger in case of a fall. The materials used for the barrier could also increase risk of COVID-19 transmission since some materials maintain the viability of the virus longer,” Museveni said.

“The innovation of introducing the barrier is applauded. However, there is a need to review the risks and provide further guidance through SOPs. The innovations will be reviewed by the MOH in consultation with the ministry for transport and the Boda Bodas Association. In the interim, they should continue with only the transportation of goods,” he added.

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