Why choosing to use a boda boda could mean life or death.

I stumbled upon certain insights that might change the way you think about boda boda’s. To best understand how boda boda’s operate can only be answered by the riders themselves. However, before we attempt to understand this phenomenon, it is vital that we understand the high risks of boda boda accidents in comparison to vehicles.


(John Howe and Annabel Davis, 2002)

80 percent of boda boda’s accidents involve some form of injury whether minor or major, one simply cannot walk away unscathed. The possibility of injury and even death is made greater in the case of collision with a larger vehicle. Women face the highest risk of injury or fatality compared to men.

When combined with the exponential numbers of motorcycle imports, this has meant the narrow roads of Kampala have only become more congested.

Conservative estimates place the number of boda boda riders to be mostly aged in the range of 18-27 with these being the greatest at 99%. Most of these are male; roughly 42% have no children. More so, most of these accidents involve riders of a younger age group (20-25 years).

The occurrence of boda boda accidents shows a considerable relationship with the level of education in such as way that most accidents reveal boda boda operators have a lower level of education with most having not completed secondary education. This can be pointed to the explanation of limited opportunities for occupation mean that boda boda’s provide an easy means of employment.


This could also partially explain their blatant violation of traffic regulations in understanding the meaning of zebra crossings and traffic lights.Furthermore, few boda boda operators have participated in any form of traffic safety or motorcycle training activities.

Most passengers shun the use of helmets citing reasons such as hygiene, convenience and comfort. This has meant the even in case of accidents, exposure to face and head injuries has reduced among the riders but not for the passengers who are unprotected. This means the passenger is highly likely to face multiple trauma and severity when involved in a motorcycle taxi accident.



Another perspective that I find relevant is the increased workload faced by these boda boda operators. Due to sitting in one position and riding for long hours, many operators complain of musculoskeletal fatigue which when combined with over eight to ten working hours of exposes them to increased physical and psychological fatigue that could explain increased accidents since their mental and physical capacity is impaired.

Boda boda‘s in large have thrived due to the failures in Uganda’s public transportation system, however while being an answer to Kampala’s break neck traffic jams, these two wheeled accident magnets have become the convenience of so many.



6 thoughts on “Why choosing to use a boda boda could mean life or death.

  1. The facts are interesting and to be honest I always discriminate: I specify the mzee on the stage not the first enthusiastic young driver who almost runs me over in his effort to take my fare.

    I think you also need to consider the multiplier effect: the effects of taking a young, uneducated and possibly tired boda boda driver – when it is raining (he is in a rush and the road is slippery). When you don’t have a helmet on, your chances of serious injury / death rise again. Considering the near lack of emergency vehicles, even if you survive the accident, you may not make it to hospital in time…

    As for where the terminology comes from, between Uganda and Kenya there is a “no man’s land” of several hundred metres where you get out of your vehicle to pass through the various immigration checks. It is on this short distance that the ‘border to border’ bicycles first came into being. These first boda boda were pushbikes not motorbikes, as I discovered for myself when I entered Kenya sitting sidesaddle on the back of one! See ‘The real ‘boda boda’ – Nagawa travels sidesaddle into Kenya’ http://muzungubloguganda.com/2011/09/the-real-boda-boda-travel-uganda-kenya/

    Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s