Kampala Capital City Authority's decision to register all boda boda riders and other motorcyclists operating in the city has attracted support and resistance almost in equal measure.
Boda boda riders opposed to this move staged a demonstration in the city last week which ended up in clashes with the police and amongst themselves. The boda boda community ought to embrace the registration exercise.
Their trade is a blessing and a menace at the same time. A blessing because boda boda is the most convenient way of getting around Kampala in the absence of organised and efficient public transport, more so when traffic jam strikes.
A menace because boda boda riders are too often a danger to themselves and to other road users because of their inconsiderate use of the road. Evidence of this can be found at Mulago hospital where more than half of the budget for the casualty unit is consumed by boda boda accident victims.
Majority of the riders have little or no knowledge of, and don't feel obliged to respect, basic traffic rules and regulations. Besides, the sheer numbers of boda bodas on our roads and the fact that they continue to grow every other day is frightening.
At this rate, we shall soon get to a point where entire roads are taken over by boda bodas, making such gridlocked areas no-go for other vehicles and pedestrians. That is not the Kampala many dwellers would be proud of.
Although it's politically sensitive, the city authority must also confront the question of whether we can afford to keep importing more boda bodas on to our narrow streets at the current rate.
Yes, they have provided jobs for a lot of youth who are a source of votes for politicians, but leaving the boda boda business unregulated is bound to backfire. And the best way to initiate reform is to establish basic facts on numbers which can best be obtained through registration.
This would enable KCCA to plan for, regulate and improve the safety of boda bodas for the riders, passengers and other road users.