One of the standard complaints of resident expats here in Kampala is transport. Cars are expensive to buy and the traffic in Kampala can be a nightmare, so many rely on motorcycle “boda-boda” taxis to get around. There are 80,000 of these to choose from, either hailed on the street or found at ranks, or “stages”, throughout town.
But one of the big issues with bodas is safety – safety on the road and personal safety. Most Kampala residents willknow someone who has been involved in a boda accident or will have been in an accident or near miss themselves. Or, perhaps more worryingly, be aware of an attack on a boda passenger by a boda rider or accomplices. These risks can be mitigated somewhat by using a trusted boda but what to do if you’re in town and need a ride straight away?
Step forward – Safe Boda. Set up in November 2014 (by Ricky Thomson, Alastair Sussock and Maxime Dieudonne) in order to provide a more professional service to the boda users, its aim being to give all passengers a safe and reliable ride home.
All riders wear easily-recognisable orange high visibility jackets and orange helmets, branded with the Safe Boda name. Helmets for passenger use are carried. Riders are trained in customer service, first aid, rules of the road and, before being allowed to fly the flag for Safe Boda, all riders have to be vetted. This involves a background check and a letter of good conduct from the authorities. Safe Boda have their own, in-house mechanic who is rolling out a scheme involving regular safety and maintenance checks for each and every boda on the fleet (which currently numbers 100). A rider training scheme is in the planning stage.
There is also a Safe Boda app. This can be downloaded from the Safe Boda website and is used to find a boda close to your location via your smart phone. This service is currently available in most central areas of Kampala and will be rolled out to cover more and more of the city in the coming months.
So at 11pm on a Saturday you have the option of grabbing a random boda on the street and taking your chances, or you can look for one of the guys in orange. Your choice! Safe Boda toll free line – 0800 300200 FREE.