31 December 2002

Uganda: War Veterans Make Money From Bicycle Repairs.

Kampala — There is no job too if ordinary when you are determined. Francis Nakana, a member of United Veterans Boda boda Repairing Association Project, is a witness in the current boom of bicycle repairing.

The project was started in the late 90s to generate money for the retrenched soldiers who used their retirement benefits to start up the project.

Since this year began, bicycle and motor cycle boda boda has increased, as many veterans were chased from the streets.

This has created jobs for over 500 mechanics in Kampala Central only yet even outside Kampala there are so many others. Nakana said that he has bought three mini buses out of this business and provided employment to his relatives.

"My three young brothers drive these mini buses together with other relatives," said Nakana.

He said that they charge every customer according to the fault of the bicycle. On a good day Nakana repairs about 30 bicycles.

Rashid Mukisa, a mechanic at Kafumbe Mukasa Road, said that he started realizing a boom in repairing bicycles last year and he attributes this to the low dues they pay to Kampala Veterans Association.

"We pay 300 a day or 9000 a month, this is very cheap and it has encouraged so many people to flock the business," said Mukisa.

Jafari Ntwirenabo, said that he has been in business for one and a half years but he is a happy man since he has managed to build him self an executive house.

He said that a day he repairs about 15 bicycles that is about 20,000/= and 600,000/= a month.

"We do not regret that we are not in big offices as we make our clean money without the likes of the Sebutinde probes," said a jovial Ntwirenabo.

He said that the mechanics are the beneficiaries as there are few compared to the cyclists.

The chairman of Uganda Association of Motor cycles and Bicycle Operators (UAMBO) Muzamir Kasamba said that in Kampala central alone there are over 1000 bicycles compared to 1999 when they had only 200 registered bicycles.

Kasamba said that the increase in both the mechanics and operators is due to lack clear supervision from Kampala City Council.

He prayed that KCC reallocate them the management of overseeing the boda boda business.

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