Boda Boda

There are swarms of them, fleets of them… There are boda bodas all over the road.

Boda boda
A typical boda boda motorcycle in Uganda

Boda boda is the most common form of transportation in Uganda and indeed much of eastern Africa. Part taxi, part courier, part light freight service, a boda boda is motorcycle for hire.

Every town has a gangs of boda bodas loitering along the main roads awaiting fares. They are everywhere along the roads, often laden with two or three passengers, or piled high with pineapples, cassava, or concrete. I would say they rule the road, but numbers do not overcome mass. Heavy lorries rule the road, everyone gets out of a lorries’ way including the boda bodas.

I learned much about boda bodas during my time in Uganda. These motorcycles are affordable transport for common folks, sorely needed mobility where few people own their own vehicles. Drivers can earn what is considered a decent wage, the equivalent to about $10 a day. Most drivers do not own their bikes, but rent them at about $3 or $4 a day. Of course they also pay for their own gas, which is currently about 6000 shillings a liter, about $1.50 a liter or about $6 a gallon.

Driving among them is a bit concerning, they crowd the road, often with little clearance around larger vehicles. Usually the motorcycles are slow, but many with larger engines or more daring drivers are faster, slipping by on the shoulder, or threading through the larger traffic.

The swarm of motorcycles requires special care when driving a larger vehicle… I realized the most important thing I could do is avoid sudden manuevers, particularly to the side and keep a close eye on my mirrors checking for motorcycles alongside my vehicle.

In the video here you can hear me restating my boda boda strategy… “Drive graceful and slow, and let the motorcycles flow around me.”

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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