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Tech Firms: Boda Boda Riders Should Be Trained

As government consider regulating the sector, the tech firms argue that institutionalisation, training of drivers and helping them to get driving permits should be some of the priorities. President Museveni, a week ago, speaking during the burial of Arua MP Ibrahim Abiriga who was murdered by assassins riding boda bodas revealed that government will put in place measure for regulate the boda boda sector.
A boda boda rider in Kampala recently

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Technology firms that have ventured into the boda boda transport industry think institutionalisation and training of riders will change the industry for the better.

The boda boda transport sector is attracting technology firms that link riders to customers using mobile applications. So far, Safe Boda, a home grown tech firm, Uber, Taxify, Mondo ride are some of the firms operating in the sector, linking customers to riders/drivers.

As government considers regulating the sector, the tech firms argue that institutionalisation, training of drivers and helping them to get driving permits should be some of the priorities. President Museveni, a week ago, speaking during the burial of  Arua MP Ibrahim Abiriga who was murdered by assassins  riding boda bodas revealed that government will put in place measure for regulating the boda boda sector. 

Museveni, for instance, said government will ban boda boda riders who cover their heads with hoods while riding, require boda boda riders to have numbered helmets and install tracking gadgets on all motorcycles. Kampala Capital City Authority has also been considering streamlining the transport sector in the city.

This reporter sought for the opinion of tech firms that already in the boda boda industry. Damalie Wasukira, the communication manager at Safe Boda says government should first focus on putting in place guidelines that will implant order and serenity in the sector. The guidelines, she says should require all riders to have helmets, driving permits and respect traffic rules.

Wasukira says countries like Rwanda that institutionalised the sector have effectively managed the boda boda riders. The rules and regulations if implemented, Wasukira says would be useful at weeding out unruly riders.

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Both Uber and Safe Boda told Uganda Radio Network that they have heavily invested in training riders who join them on basic traffic rules. The Uber Uganda team leader, Aaron Tindiseega says there is very low compliance of boda boda riders on basic traffic rules. For instance, he said Uber is helping riders who join them to get driving permit. Tindiseega says government should reduce boda boda driving permit fee which he argues is astronomically high.  

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Wasukira says training boda boda riders will bolster professionalism in the industry. Like car drivers, she says boda boda riders should be subjected to a training before they are given driving permits.  

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Security and Identification

The two firms equally say they subject riders who join them to a rigorous security check up. For instance at Safe Boda, Wasukira says they recruit only boda boba riders who come from known stages. They are required to get introduction letters from stage leaders.

“What we do at safe boda, we have a proper interview process and get to know who these people are and where they come from. One of the things that we do is to recruit people who belong to stages because the stage is already existing,” said Wasukira. She said riders are also requested for a letter from their next of kin. This identification, she told this reporter, lays bare the identity of those who join Safe Boda.

Cognisant of boda boda aided crimes, Uber's Tindiseega says riders who join them are required to present introduction letters from LC I, LC II chairpersons and the national identity card. Uber also has a taxi cab section. Taxi drivers, he said are required to get clearance letter from Uganda Police Interpol Directorate.  This, Tindiseega says is a sufficient background check.

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As government considers streamlining the boda boda industry, Tindiseega says it should pattern with private technology companies. He says these firms have resources and useful data that ease the burden of the sector transformation.

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But the security features that these companies provide may not be what government is interested in. Their technology is simply connecting riders and customers using applications yet government is interested in a 24 hour surveillance. I posed a question: If a riders takes an errand without using your app, will you be monitoring him? The answer I got is not. Both Uber and Safe Boda say, they strongly encourage customers to use the application.

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