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Security team to crack down non-gazetted stages to minimize criminality in Mbarara city

Joshua Nahamya

10 November 2022

Mbarara City Security Committee (MCSC) headed by Resident City Commissioner (RCC) has resolved to gazette all boda-boda stages and register the riders to fight the increasing crimes related to the boda-boda business in the city.

This follows a public outcry on the increasing cases of murder and motorcycle thefts reported by motorists in Mbarara.

According to Samson Kasasira, Rwizi region police spokesperson, between January-June 2022 a total of over 30 boda-boda murder cases were reported out of 117 motorcycles reportedly stolen in the region.

Kasasira says most of the murders by strangulation, hacking, and use of blunt objects mostly target boda-bodas operating at night. “Criminals take advantage of dark spot areas but as police, we are not seated for instance out of 117 stolen motorcycles, we managed to recover 22 of them”. He said

And for the side of traffic, in October, out of 72 accidents in the region, 27 involved boda-bodas where 12 lives were lost and 15 were seriously injured.

In the fight to restore road safety, police in the region have so far impounded 123 motorcycles for riders without helmets, permits, and reflector jackets in an operation that kick-started on 11th November 2022.

“The operation is ongoing and errant riders have also been issued with express penalty receipts starting from 40,000 shillings,” said Kasasira

During the security meeting held on Tuesday, Moses Aruho, Deputy Resident City Commissioner (DRCC) Mbarara, divulged that the committee on which the city clerk and the mayor are members resolved that they should come up with gazetted boda-boda stages to reduce the number of stages in the heart of Mbarara town.

“Yesterday we had our security meeting and we agreed with the city clerk that by 30th of this month council must have come up with clear gazetted stages for boda-bodas in the city. We don’t want again to see boda-bodas parked on roads if by 30th and if there is no any reaction, police will take charge and we shall implement”

He says this will be done to curb crime, especially during the festive season. “Before we go to December we must make sure Mbarara city is orderly as far as boda-bodas are concerned. Actually what causes failure to take a decision is politicking but we must put politics aside and make sure we organize our city free from traffic jams, especially during this time when we are entering into the festive season to see how we can fight crimes in Mbarara” Mugisha explained

He warned that motor riders must concentrate on specified areas but not occupy the entire Mbarara city. We are not chasing boda-bodas from the city but we want regulated stages where they are supposed to park but not to interfere with the security situation and scatter everywhere, especially in the middle of the town where other people’s businesses should be considered” said Deputy city clerk

Mugisha adds that some go ahead to park even in the middle of the road putting their lives at risk of causing accidents in the city center. “When you go to the high street you find boda-bodas everywhere so we are going to do as much as possible to implement this come 30th November”

He says the work of boda-bodas has become insecure in Mbarara where the criminals hide non-gazetted stages to commit several cases. “We want riders’ records to be captured well such that their leaders should know the people they are working with in the stages where they park. This will protect criminals from hiding in the boda-boda business which will help us as security to fight crime that has escalated “

Godfrey Tumusiime, the Speaker of Mbarara City South Division has welcomed the resolution claiming that it will leave Mbarara city roads clean.

“If you look at the money we spend on cleaning the roads per month and most of the people who litter them are the boda-boda riders who drink water, eat maize, and sugar cane and dump garbage on our roads.

He adds that they don’t pay any tax to the council despite consuming lots of parking slots in town.

“You find like from centenary bank up to Mahembe Gente on high street, all the parking slot supposed to be utilised by car owners who pay us parking fees is occupied by boda-bodas who don’t pay anything”

Mugisha Richard, Deputy City Clerk says gazetting boda-boda stages are brought in a good faith to enforce a city order in the transport sector around town.

 “It is important that we discuss the issue of the transport industry in general and a city order where the issue of boda-bodas is a part because we are having some buildup of traffic jam in Mbarara which is a bad signal yet some people think it is evidence of development but it is a symptom of bad planning.

He cited that boda-bodas recently in the whole country have been used as a route for greater insecurity including urban terrorism which must be fought. “We shall sit with the substantive leadership we share with them our plans in terms of gazetting boda-boda operating areas then we implement, come December we shall have order in as far the operations of boda-bodas are concerned but also the vehicles must be considered,” Mugisha said

He sympathized with boda-boda riders being the first targets of crime, especially during the night operations. “Boda-boda riders are largely victims of wrongdoers, people who come to take their motorcycles, first come and disguise as genuine passengers but end up killing them on the way so they are potential victims of insecurity prevailing including others administering other vices like rape, assault among others,” said Mugisha

Mugisha says they will follow all the necessary avenues and processes to gazette the stages at an appropriate time.

“You know a city is a system and part of the system is the security component, and the fact that we are members of the city security committee, we shall implement without any directive as per the deadline to have an order in town because our cardinal objective is to create an enabling business environment that allows people to earn from their skills”. He explained

Majidu Luganda; interim chairperson of Mbarara City Boda-Boda Association says the process of demarcating stages will fail because the existing number of parking stages was earlier registered when Mbarara was still a municipality.

“Wherever there is a stage, it has its own committee leading it and they have a development plan and all those stages are registered and approved by council which is hard for them to be removed”

He adds that implementation will fail because there is no credible renewed substantive leadership to ascertain the processes of gazetting boda-boda stages in Mbarara city.

“The committee we have is just an interim leadership and even the constitution we still have is for the municipality so they should bring in the issue of gazetting stages when we have elected new leaders”

He instead advised the authorities to stop the registration of new boda-boda riders in the existing stages around the city.

How Motorists are in Mbarara that are on the verge of being reduced from the city. Joshua Nahamya

“If the stage had like 20 members it should not go beyond the number to reduce the increasing number of boda-bodas in town”. Luganda said

Also, Vincent Kimuli, a Boda-Boda Rider in Mbarara accused the police of sidelining them during investigations when they arrested the suspects and handed them over to the police.

“When we arrest criminals they are released without our knowledge and there is no way we can clean our city of Mbarara as boda-boda riders if security does not cooperate with us,” Kimuli said

Gilbert Mwesigye, another boda-boda rider in Katete cell said there are many in Mbarara that the council should not think of chasing away.

“Where do you chase the entire population of Mbarara especially during the day to go where, remember these are boys from neighbouring districts of Isingiro, Ibanda, Sheema and the rest looking for the daily meal from the nearby regional city?”

Ivan Muhumuza, another boda-boda rider at the lotus stage who is a breadwinner for about 8 people, warns the government to first secure jobs for all the people in the sector before chasing them away from the town.

“For instance with my motorcycle I take care of my mother, father, my family of two plus my siblings, now chasing me away from the street what will be the fate of all these people that I look after”? He asked

According to data from Mbarara boda-boda association sensitization, the city has over 70,000 riders and 650 stages around the city.

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