Uganda’s security services have Sunday warned “unscrupulous” individuals of serious consequences should they stage riots over the suspension of boda boda operations.
The boda boda riders are not allowed to carry passengers to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in the country.
However, they are allowed to carry essential supplies.
There are more than a million boda bodas in operation in Uganda.
This business is a source of livelihood for millions of riders and their immediate families.
Several boda boda groups have since asked government to allow them resume operations to enable them earn a living.
Many say they are not only starving but also unable to feed their families.
But government says it’s too early to allow Bodas to carry people as it would increase physical contact thus leading to spread of COVID-19.
On Sunday, reports indicated that boda boda groups were planning protests in different parts of the country to protest against government’s failure to allow them return to the streets.
The Joint Security team said “their planned riots are aimed at stampeding government to prematurely allow BODA BODA operators to resume normal operations, despite the systematic easing of the lockdown by government on the recommendations of the health experts.”
Below is the Joint Security’s statement on the crisis:
Following the break out of the deadly COVID-19 in most parts of the world early this year, H.E The President on 18th March, 2020, addressed the nation and put it on war footing to fight and defeat the virus.
The several measures announced are meant to contain the pandemic and more directives have since then been issued aimed at saving the lives of Ugandans through prevention. Prevention is mainly through de-concentration and compliance with the health experts’ advice such as washing hands, avoid touching the eyes, the nose, and the mouth among others.
The whole purpose of the closure of public transport has been in the spirit of de-concentration and government is fully aware of the consequences in terms of income to the sector, especially the BODA BODA operators. However, it should be known that our BODA BODA people are not alone in this.
There are other affected sectors of the economy and workers especially in saloons, gyms, bars, arcades, lodges, dealers in non-food items in markets (Obutale) and others. Majority of Ugandans have during this period of the lock-down offered to sacrifice for the bigger objective to defeat COVID-19.
This is the spirit we all need to maintain.
The Joint Security Forces have however received intelligence about unscrupulous people who want to cause mayhem in the Kampala Metropolitan Area and other urban areas such as Mbarara, Jinja, Kasese, Mityana etc.
Their planned riots are aimed at stampeding government to prematurely allow BODA BODA operators to resume normal operations, despite the systematic easing of the lockdown by government on the recommendations of the health experts.
It should be noted that there already many reports of the BODA BODAs violating directives by carrying passengers and also flouting the curfew guidelines, among others. This is definitely wrong as it puts the operators in danger as well as their passengers, families, and the community.
COVID-19 is looking out for such loopholes and bad behaviors to exploit and penetrate our community.
The cases we now have are already alarming the public and there is no need to add more.
All this notwithstanding, the joint security forces have been made aware of their plight, concerns and challenges arising out of their inability to resume normal operations.
Today, the Joint leadership of the security forces interacted with selected leaders of the BODA BODA industry and took the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of their challenges.
Resulting from this understanding, the Joint Security Forces assured the BODA BODA leaders that their concerns will be forwarded to the National Task Force in order to come up with a road-map and modalities for the full normalization of the BODA BODA operations.
The Joint Security Forces appeals and advises all members in the BODA BODA industry to remain calm and desist from any acts of lawlessness as their concerns have been taken note of.
The Joint Security Forces warns all opportunists who seek to exploit the plight of the Boda Boda operators for their own selfish motives that the law will take its course.
The Joint Security Forces are closely monitoring the situation and are ready to respond appropriately.