LIVELIHOODS AT CROSSROADS: KAMPALA’S BODA-BODA MOTORCYCLE TAXI OPERATORS
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Informal transport modes such as Kampala’s boda-boda motorcycle taxis have become a common fixture in much of the developing world. Readily available and accessible especially for the city’s increasingly transit-dependent population, these taxis have woven an intricate pattern of linkages within the transport system, thus becoming an indispensable part of it. The operations of the boda-boda motorcycle taxis have helped to provide much needed jobs for unemployed and low-skilled individuals. In addition, they have helped to improve access and mobility in areas devoid of service coverage by other public transport modes. Little attention though is given to the livelihood issues related to this mode of transport. While their contribution to promoting mobility in the city has largely gone unheralded, their negative aspects have drawn more attention. Their role in aggravating traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, traffic accidents, conflicts and urban crime have become more newsworthy items. As such, calls for banning them both from the general public and corridors of power have grown louder, culminating in a series of conflicting policy recommendations between transport regulatory organs such as the Uganda Police and Kampala City Council. Little or almost no attention is given to the fact that the number of livelihoods at stake is relatively huge. This study was carried out in an attempt to bring to the fore this neglected aspect, in a bid to engender alternative interventions and strategies to safeguard the potentially vulnerable livelihoods of those entirely dependant on this mode of transport for survival.