In Ugandan speak, ‘boda boda’ refers to motorcycle taxis. Boda boda are a common sight on Kampala streets and in other towns around the country. It is the fastest way to get anywhere in the city, considering the traffic problem prevailing in Kampala. In upcountry towns, the lack of other public transport means such as taxis into the villages make boda boda not just a quick way but the only way to move around. If you don’t own a car, boda boda is the only other transport system that takes you straight to your doorstep.
On Kampala streets, boda bodas are overwhelmingly many and hardly respect the traffic rules. It is a common sight to see pedestrians stop for a boda boda to ride by before they use the designated pedestrian crossing [zebra crossing]; or boda bodas competing with pedestrians on the street pavements/ sidewalks. For these vey reasons, boda bodas have been cited as the number one cause of road accidents in Uganda, most of them fatal.
Despite their disrespect for traffic laws, boda bodas are still a quick and common way of getting around town if you are not patient enough to sit in a commuter taxi, get stuck in traffic and get to your destination late. It is also a sure way to get to a place you do not know, especially if you are new in town or just going to a new area. Boda boda riders know almost all the places in town.
So if you are new in town; here are some tips to the boda boda experience.
- There are several boda boda stages along the streets, so pick one from anywhere closest to you. Alternatively, you can just stand on the street and yell ‘boda!’ if you see one passing by. They will always stop and pick you up.
- If you don’t know where you are going, it is likely that you will be charged a higher price than usual especially if you negotiate before setting off. Get to where you are going first then according to the distance, offer the price you think is suitable. The lowest price for any boda ride is Ugx. 1,000 [about $3], for the shortest distance. Most Mzungus are usually charged a higher price than the locals, so beware and negotiate your way to a lower price!