In the wake of COVID-19, a 7 p.m. Curfew and lockdown were imposed in Uganda. On one unlucky day, Lutakome Imran Kigongo, a law student at Nkumba University was headed home late at night when he encountered the police and faced an experience that would later inspire a movement for change.
The police stopped Imran, interrogated him, and impounded his motorcycle. What was seemingly a simple violation of the curfew time turned into mayhem, Imran was slapped with charges of riding without a permit. “What I went through that day was simply a reflection of what Boda-Boda riders go through on a daily. “said Imran.
Years later, Imran’s head-on experience with the system prompted him to take action. Alongside friends, he founded the Ethical African Organization to embark on a change campaign he believes will restore parity in the business said to be a source of income to many.
To Imran’s worry, obtaining a boda boda rider’s license costs between 250,000 to 400,000 Uganda Shillings “which poses a financial challenge to most riders. ” , Imran says, “For that matter, many are forced to operate without licenses, leaving them vulnerable to harassment and police potentially confiscating their motorcycles.”
An in-house survey conducted by Ethical African Organisation, targeting over 200 riders from across the country revealed that 48% of the riders have over five years of experience in the job with a whopping 83% operating without driving licenses.
The survey also established that 70% of the riders have no requisite documents like National ID to enable them acquire driver’s license.
As part of his efforts, the organization has not only proposed policy changes but has also taken practical steps to support bodaboda riders by distributing over 2000 reflector jackets for safety, launching an online petition, producing a song highlighting the riders’ plight, and creating informative materials simplifying the licensing process.
Lutakome believes that peaceful advocacy and the democratic process are key to change. His organization’s efforts are driven by principles of freedom, aiming to create a brighter future for Uganda’s boda boda riders.