It has been revealed that at least 62.5% of the budget allocated to the directorate of Surgery at Mulago hospital is spent on victims of accidents involving boda boda (commuter motorcycles).
A report that followed a study carried out by Makerere University College of Health Sciences and the department of Orthopaedics says boda boda were involved in 41% of all motor accidents. Released this week, the report further says that the average cost of treating a boda boda victim with head injuries or broken limbs is Shs 700,359. Mulago hospital alone, the report says, receives five to 20 boda boda-related accident cases everyday.
Whichever way you look at it, these are staggering numbers. For more than a decade Uganda has watched the boda boda phenomenon grow into a menace but nothing has been done about it. Instead, some political players have opportunistically encouraged the business in a bid to use the youth for political ends. It cannot be denied that boda boda have some advantages.
They are convenient in a country without an organised public transport system and they have provided jobs to thousands of youths. However, these limited benefits have blinded us to the big picture - which is that if we don't control boda boda, especially in Kampala, our hospitals will continue to be filled with accident victims and the traffic situation will get out of hand.
To address this state of affairs, many people have suggested training boda boda riders and getting them to obey traffic rules. Others have raised the issue of registration, licensing as well as the use of crash helmets. These are all helpful interventions. However, a more fundamental and sustainable solution would lie in regulating the purchase of the motorcycles.
Otherwise, some Kampala streets will become no-go areas for cars and pedestrians in a couple of years. This will not only worsen the accident situation, it will also make our city very unfriendly to residents and visitors. Therefore, the government needs to restrict further importation of boda bodas while trying to address the job needs of the youth who have found it the most viable employment at the moment.