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A Look at the Dreadful Impact of Covid-19 on a Bodaboda Rider’s 11-Member Family

It is undeniable that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a great impact on each and everybody at different levels, however, the effect has been felt to the core among those whose income was already low before the lockdown was effected.

For many families trapped in the ‘living hand to mouth’ situation where a day’s earning is a day’s meal, with the lockdown came a final blow to the meaning of life. Those who were just surviving before, are now barely living through the day.

In Bukasa-Masozi, a family of 11 people depend solely on the family head’s earnings from a bodaboda riding job. Mubiru, (not real name), doesn’t own the motorcycle he rides and as per the arrangements in the boda boda business, he has to pay a certain percentage of the day’s earnings to his boss, service the motorcycles then take home the remainder.

Damali Alica, 40, wife to Mubilu and mother to their 9 children is only but a house wife. She was kind enough to share with us their lockdown ordeal.

Life in the Covid-19 situation

Seated at the veranda of their rented house, Damalie decried the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the prevailing lockdown in a depressed tone.

“When the wave of Covid-19 started roaming all-over Uganda, our situation just worsened,” Damalie commenced, adding; “It’s true we weren’t that well-off before but with the lockdown, my husband couldn’t earn a single penny.”

Damalie noted that like any other man, Mubiru would leave home everyday to go look for money but it wasn’t enough to cater for their families meals.

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“My husband would earn something before they were stopped from working. He would take care of us without much burden. When they stopped them from carrying passengers, things became really hard,” she said.

Damalie further acknowledged the need for her to work so as to supplement her husband’s income. She noted, however, that her trials at finding a stable job have been futile and raising arms to the well off relatives is sometimes her only option.

“As you can see, I have a big family to take care of. I go to my relatives and ask for help most times. Even my husband tries hard to get something small so that we can buy food but on some rough days, we can’t afford,” she narrated.

Accumulating rent arrears

The family is already drowning in poverty. They haven’t been able to pay their rent since March when the lockdown was announced. As such, they are not in good terms with their landlord who has beckoned them to clear at least part of the debt but all in vain.

Their house rent is at 70,000 Shs per month.

“If I can fail to get food for my family, how can I pay my rent? The landlord needs his money because he comes every month to demand for it and we have always failed to pay,” Damalie stressed.

Food shortages

This family depends on two unsatisfying meals a day; a late lunch and tea for supper.

Damalie was not happy with the closure of schools because it has tremendously affected her as a parent, who has always, despite their situation, found a way and wanted to see her children pass.

“When the president said that schools must close, I felt so bad. I expected my children to be in a different class next year. The responsibilities and expenses have increased as they are all at home now,” she said.

Damalie called on to the President to allow boda bodas resume working so their families can get back up.

“I urge the president to let the boda boda riders do business as it was, before they were stopped from carrying passengers due to covid-19. Nonetheless, our area did not receive any food relief like many people living around Kampala. They had promised us posho and beans but for us we did not get,” she said.

Fortunately, as per the President’s address yesterday July 22, boda bodas will start carrying passengers on July 27.

This is a situation for numerous households around the city and its suburbs, hopefully, with the lockdown continuing to be eased up, people will get back to work and life gets a ray of light at the end of this overly dark tunnel.

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