OPINION: The boda boda business is a true mirror image of Uganda’s Society

The boda boda business is a true mirror image of Uganda's Society

I have a feeling that some people high above in government are just afraid of stating the fact that the bodaboda transport business has overtaken agriculture as the biggest employing sector in Uganda.

“The early grave senders”(because of the recklessness of the riders) can sometimes save the day when they help deliver a pizza at your doorstep or help you beat traffic for your appointment.

In a country with a population of over 80% below the age of 40years, land lost to grabbers, parents selling off their land to take their children to school only to end up with no jobs.

In some instances, the agricultural output doesn’t fetch much for instance a tonne of sugar cane that takes more than 2years to grow, goes for less than 80k (which is a week’s earning or less for a bodaboda ridder).

Other children have been raised on 50X100ft plots of land, one-bedroom rental houses in the slums. All this makes the parroted chorus by politicians about modernization and improvement of agriculture sound like an insult.

A simple plan to start up a small scale industry like shoemaking will require, registration, local government tax, trading license, garbage disposal dues, rent, toilet fees, high electricity dues, income tax even where one has not started making a profit before facing competition from the cheap Chinese imports not to forget the “table tax” (this is money left home for daily expenses now considered a tax by many)

Of the less than 20% of the population that is above 40years who have gotten almost the 90% of the country’s wealth have instead invested in building arcades, apartments which investments do not employ many of the youths except as casual laborers at the time of construction.

Many of those with jobs can not earn enough to take a child through school without borrowing or saving enough to buy a plot of land and construct a house or start farming.

The best available option is to either fly out of the country for a job in the middle East or join the ” deadly ” accident pron bodaboda riding.

You can hate or love them depending on the position of benefit but these riders are our children, brothers, uncles, friends, in-laws and their habits on the road depict the true character of our society.

While we blame them for riding on the wrong side of the road we then see our politicians with lead cars driving on the wrong side in a hurry to get to their drinking joints.

They have either been conditioned to be impatient, develop self-entitlement on the road at the traffic lights or, learned from leaders or do it in defiance out of disgust for the actions of politicians.

What else would explain members of parliament’s reasoning for their monthly pay and benefits? We have gotten to a level where we put “self” first and the rest later.

While bodaboda riders group up to siphon fuel from a fallen truck with a risk of burning to death, the politicians want a share of the covid relief fund for personal use, the land Lords what a fee for toilet use on top of rent.

These are the habits reflected by bodaboda riders we have blamed for selfishness.

It is every driver’s nightmare when bodaboda riders gang up in defense of their own irrespective of whether he was in right or wrong.

Next time you see a bodaboda rider becoming a menace on the road, just remember that you are looking through a mirror reflecting your Ugandan habits.

Absolom Lubwama

Contributor, The Postdale Daily

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