Save My City!

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So its official, Kampala might as well be called Boda Central! When you are named Banana Republic, then you can understand why so many things go rotten quickly, and why its always slippery if you step on the peels.

I am sick to my stomach, and angry at the sight of a Police Officer (Director of Operations) standing on a make shift stage, along side an unidentified man, who is rallying Boda Boda cyclists against the impending registration and re-ordering of their operation within the city; and ordering the Capital City Authority to withdraw the registration instructions.

Who is this man? Does he live in Kampala? How long has he lived in Kampala? How many Boda Bodas does he have? How much, in taxes, does he pay every year? How much has he actually paid, proof of which he has? Am just trying to establish the moral and positional authority, especially on behalf of the 3.5 million persons who live in Kampala, against which he can stand and order disobedience of a public instruction of a city authority…

And who is the Police Officer standing next to him? Which part of LAW and ORDER does he need to understand better?

Like HIV, I can bet everyone who lives and/or works in Kampala knows a relative who has suffered from a Boda Boda accident – but wait a minute, that’s not why we need them registered. We can go hit Al shabaab hammers and tongs, for killing 76 Ugandans, but we can look on as Boda Bodas steadily rob the very life of this city, one limb at a time. Mulago Hospital, admittedly, spends 60% of its budget on the Casualty ward, ably stocked by Boda Boda injuries.

How is it that Boda Bodas do not wear helmets as required by law, and they continue to get away with it?

How is it that at the Jinja Road Traffic Light Junction, Boda Bodas will jump the red light, enmass, and get away with it?

How is it that, Makerere University Students, peacefully protesting against rise in tuition fees, get teargassed yet Boda Bodas hold a city on ransom, and the Police appear to “protect” them?

Why is it that Boda Bodas will “Strike” and inconvenience other road users, because the Police has asked them to produce proof of Third Party Insurance, yet Besigye will be charged with frivolous accusations of the same when infact its the same Boda Bodas that choose to follow him?

How is it that Boda Bodas, threaten and indeed succeed to bring Kampala to a stand still just because they don’t want to be registered, and the police look on, to the point of getting a government motor bike burned? Someone, anyone, please help me understand this.

Maybe this is why:

Because we don’t even have the decency to know our turn in a junction that has no traffic lights.

Because we allow buses in a city, without designated Bus Lanes, Stops, Routes and Schedules.

Because we are a city, and people, who cant stand to keep our words, let alone tell order from disorder.

Because Traffic Officers let them break all the rules, with the impunity of a swarm, coiling and frightened stiff at the numbers.

Because we enact laws that empower both the Political and Administrative leaders, and still expect them to perform the same duties.

Because we have lived with so much disorder, it has become so normal and so real, to the extent that order is now alien, and infact painful.

Because Taxis continue to park at any spot to get/drop passengers, inspite of the clearly marked stages. And they continue to get away with it.

Because we think we can sweep the dust of the roads every morning, only for us to be surprised that it returned the following day.

Because we drive on the pavements, and think that every siren is an automatic right-of-way, and a ticket to drive on the right side of the road.

Because every year, we like to set the Seatbelt rule, and every year it fades right back into oblivion, as do so many other rules and regulations.

Because we don’t use traffic lights enough to know the difference between a RED and an ORANGE, and the officers have no moral authority because they don’t drive and so have no idea what it means to share a road with a Boda.

Because Police tents camp on the only green in the city (City Square) and close off the road as and when they wish, with complete disregard of the traffic implications thereof.

Because though we don’t know how or where he slept, and though we can see he looks wasted, we still prefer to entrust our professionally productive lives in the hands of a Boda rider who’s not wearing a helmet even for his own life – and we ask him to dash off to save our late blushes.

Because we like to wait till a road is done, so we can dig up the pavement to place underground cables, and we never take a picture, so we can restore the road to the state we found it – if we are so foolish as to not remember.

Because we are too lazy to walk to city square, we think we really must take that Boda Boda.

Because we generally prefer to muse about Kigali, yet cannot get out to clean out city on the last Saturday of every month – as if the Rwandese got their city from heaven.

Because we prefer to wait to the Kampala Capital City Festival, and drink ourselves “Ugandan Style” and somehow hope when the hang is over, the streets will be made of silver and gold!

Someone, anyone, please save my city!