Monday, 28 August 2017

Boda Boda Or Okada

Boda Boda is a bicycle taxi, originally in East Africa (from English border-border). The bicycle rider can also be called boda-boda. In Uganda it is sometimes abbreviated as simply Boda.

A motorcycle taxi is a licensed form of transport in some countries. Typically, the taxi carries one passenger, and sometimes two or more who ride as the pillion, behind the motorcycle operator.

The boda-boda taxis are part of the African bicycle culture; they started in the 1960s and 1970s and are still spreading from their origin on the Kenyan - Ugandan border to other regions. The name originated from a need to transport people across the "no-mans-land" between the border posts without the paperwork involved with using motor vehicles crossing the international border.

This started in the southern border crossing town of Busia (Kenya/Uganda), where there is over half a mile between the gates, and quickly spread to the northern border town of Malaba (Kenya). The bicycle owners would shout out boda-boda (border-to-border) to potential customers - not to be confused with poda-poda, which is a form of shared taxi in Sierra Leone.

Indian or Chinese standard roadster bicycles are used with locally made carriers and a cushion to transport passengers and goods. There are big advantages compared to the expensive, slow and heavy Cycle rickshaw used in Asia.

In many East African and Central African cities and villages, professional bodaboda taxi-drivers are common. Bodaboda organizations have been founded in many towns. They help to minimize the risks (dangerous driving, badly maintained bikes) by registering and licensing their members.

While the boda-boda bicycle is still spreading to other areas, in its area of origin, especially in cities in Kenya and Uganda, the bicycles are more and more replaced by motorbikes. The motorbike taxis have taken the name bodaboda as well. Other local names have been coined for the motorbikes; they are known as peng' in the Nyanza province of Kenya.

In 2004 it was estimated that more than 200 000 men in Uganda were working as bicycle bodaboda and already almost 90 000 as motorized motorbike bodaboda. Okada or Achaba is the Nigerian equivalent to motorbike bodaboda. The Philippines has its own version of this form of paid transport called the "habal-habal"

An okada sometimes called achaba, going or inaga is a commercial motorcycle used as a vehicle for hire in Nigeria. The name okada was borrowed from Okada Air, a Nigerian local airline, now defunct. Okadas are also commonly used in many West African countries, including Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In its time, Okada Air was the most popular Nigerian local airline, but was not known for its comfort.The motorcycle transports were nicknamed after the airline, because they could manoeuvre through the heavy traffic of Lagos, and take passengers to their destinations in a timely manner, in the same way as the airline.

The ironic humour of an airline's name being used for commercial motorcyclists, as well as the local familiarity with Okada Air, caused the nickname of okada to outlive the airline from which it originated, and which many Nigerians no longer even remember.

Okadas appeared in the late 1980s, during an economic downturn in Nigeria. Jobless youths began to use motorcycles to earn money by transporting passengers on narrow or poorly maintained roads to faraway cities and villages. This type of transportation quickly became popular, and acceptance of it has increased steadily.

Okadas are now one of the primary modes of transportation in Nigeria, and comprise a cheap and adaptable transportation system, the most popular informal one in the country by far. Even in remote villages, they arrive at regular intervals. It has become a means of transportation regularly used by the young and the old, and men and women.

Unfortunately, the rise in okada usage has been accompanied by increased occurrences of risky driving, and accidents, on Nigerian roads; as a result, okadas have come under heavy criticism, resulting in legislation intended to restrict or prohibit their operation in some Nigerian cities.

Taxicab and bus service in Nigeria is inadequate, and congestion and poorly maintained roads are widespread. Okadas are used in cities such as Lagos by businessmen, government workers, and students to overcome traffic congestion, and are able to navigate roads that are inaccessible to automobiles and buses, particularly in villages and urban slums.

Contributing to the flourishing of okadas is their low purchase price for operators, and their superior fuel efficiency, which is particularly important during petrol shortages in Nigeria. Okada fares are usually higher than those of public transit. Riding on an okada has been described as "a unique experience" by both tourists and local users.

Accidents Police statistics show that bodaboda accidents claim 500 people in Uganda every year while another 1200 get seriously injured.There are harrowing tales of children who have been victims of these accidents to the extent that the biggest national referral hospital, Mulago, set up a special ward to specifically treat such cases.

Over 100 children are bedridden at Mulago National Hospital due to bodaboda accidents that occur while they are being taken to school. Okadas, like motorcycles elsewhere, have a higher rate of crippling and fatal accidents per unit of distance travelled than automobiles.

Injuries to limbs occur to patients who report at the emergency department of that hospitals in practitically all African countries. The use of personal protective equipment is practically nonexistent among Okada or Boda Boda riders.

Joan Naluggwa 6, a Top Class pupil of Salver Village at Wandegeya says she was involved in an accident while going to school when a bodaboda she was traveling on knocked another at Kaleerwe.

Annet Komimbo 7, a Top Class pupil at Makerere West Valley says she was heading home on a bodaboda after school when it had a head on collision with another. She sustained head injuries.

Elijah Kapule, only 2, was knocked by a bodaboda at the roadside and broke his leg as he rushed to welcome his elder siblings from school.
Abel Bukenya 6, a P.1 pupil of Omega Primary School and resident of Kabalagala was knocked by a bodaboda a few meters from home as he came from school.

Sharifa Nakato 10, who goes to school at Kayembe in Bweyogerere was was knocked by a runaway bodaboda as she crossed the road from school.

She is being looked after by her mother, Florence Nakayiza, in hospital where she is bedridden. Sharifa Nakato was hit by a runaway bodaboda
Avias Niwagaba 8, a Top class pupil at John Bosco Katende together with his sister Sanyu Tusiime 12, had been sent to buy milk when a bodaboda knocked them. Sanyu was not so lucky and died on spot.

- Failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents

- The vast majority of okada/Boda Boda drivers do not pay attention to road signs and other motorists.

- Unlicensed and untrained drivers. In Africa, okada /Boda Boda drivers begin working after only a few hours of training sessions. Underage okada /Boda Boda drivers are not uncommon on African roads.

- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

- Over speeding

- Over loading, they will carry as many as 4 passengers on a single motor bike, plus luggage.

- Poor state of African roads, which are typically riddled with pot-holes

- Graft and corruption among the Police Force,who are induced into disregarding traffic misdemeanors when given bribes.

The influx of Okadas/Boda Bodas has been linked to an increase in crime in cities throughout Africa, particularly in city centres, urban slums, and red light districts. The criminal activities range from theft of purses and mobile phones to abduction, grand larceny, and even murders.

Okadas have been criticized for causing or exacerbating traffic congestion in the cities where they operate. There have also been incidents involving gang beatings, in which Okada drivers have attacked motorists after traffic accidents. Fights have been known to escalate into riots and vehicles being set on fire.

Locally known as xe om, this lightweight mode of transportation is one of the most popular in Vietnam. It surpasses buses when it comes to speed and mobility. Passengers can get a ride simply by waving at passing operators. Alternatively they can find drivers who usually gather at public places such as schools, markets, hospitals and bus or train stations.

A motorcycle for hire service began in California and New York City in 2011. Like a sedan service, random passengers may not hail the motorcycles, but rather a yearly individual or corporate membership fee, plus an hourly rate, is charged.

Experienced riders, many former police motorcyclists, carry clients on Honda Gold Wings, and in California can bypass traffic congestion by lane splitting. Passengers are provided with helmets, airbag vests, and Bluetooth in-helmet cell phones.

Besides the Gold Wings, the service bought several Can-Am Spyders before realizing they were not capable of splitting lanes.

The industry began in 1990 and has established itself as a niche market, never growing past a total of 12 bikes. All equipment is provided for the passenger along with an intercom system linking the rider and passenger. The luggage rack means a cabin-sized suitcase can be taken on the back for convenient trips to local airports, especially Stansted, Gatwick and City.

The bikes are now licensed by Transport for London and the Public Carriage Office, (PCO) who also license London's black cabs. There are currently 3 firms offering a taxi bike service based in London.

Motorcycle taxis are common forms for public transport in Bangkok and most other cities, towns and villages in Thailand. They are generally used for short trips. In Bangkok, there are motorcycle taxi queues on many sois, or side-streets, and the queues are regulated by the city's government.

Licensed motorcycle-taxi operators wear orange vests. In compliance with Thailand's helmet law, many but not all carry a spare helmet to offer to passengers.

In 1994–1995 there were several motorcycles working as taxis in Stockholm. Due to the Northern climate of Sweden, there is not a long period for a motorcycle taxi to work in Stockholm, and so it remains only a niche industry. There is one company offering tours using two Chang jiang sidecar motorcycles.

The Philippines has sidecar taxis as well as "habal-habal" - motorcycle taxis with extended seats, often sideways by a T-shaped crossbeam, and then "tricycles," covered three-wheel autorickshaws. Kalesa & Habal-Habal Found in most cities and towns, the tricycle is the Philippine rickshaw – a little, roofed Habal-habal are essentially motorcycle taxis with extended seats ,literally translated as 'pigs copulating"

Motorcycle taxis or Ojek are a very common unlicensed form of transport in Indonesia. Commonly called ojek, they can be found in most areas of the country, from towns where traffic jams sometimes greatly hinder other forms of transport to rural areas areas where four-wheeled vehicles cannot travel.

Would-be passengers usually haggle with the driver over the fee which is generally around IDR 5,000 to IDR 10,000 (about 50¢ to US$ 1) for short trips. Many motorcycle taxi drivers own their vehicles or are paying installments for them through credit.

The availability of cheap Indonesian-made motorcycles from Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki and some cheaper Chinese imports combined with the ease with which driver's licenses can be obtained and credit schemes has resulted in the rapid growth of motorcycle taxis.

In several areas, the motorcycles used are often stolen ones without any papers. Indonesian law requires motorcycle riders to wear helmets. However often only the driver does so.

Sometimes drivers provide a helmet for the passenger but more likely drivers will simply avoid larger streets where police might catch the violation. Because of traffic, ojek are often the fastest form of transport, especially in Jakarta. Many people choose ojek rather than taxis because although taxis are much safer, ojek are cheaper can easily manoeuvre through the traffic.

Motorcycle taxis are a licensed form of transport in Goa, India. They are much cheaper than other taxis, although the lone passenger can only carry a backpack as luggage. Motorcycle taxis in Goa are driven by men called 'pilots'.

By law, in some parts of the state, the rider is expected to wear a helmet, but the pillion-rider is not. These motorcycle taxis can normally be identified by their yellow-and-black coloured paint. The fare should be fixed in advance, and the rides are not metered.

In Phnom Penh and other cities in Cambodia, motorcycle taxis are the primary form of public transport. Motorcycle taxi drivers are called motodups. They form in queues outside major tourist attractions, office buildings, public markets and near the corners of residential streets. In Phnom Penh, a typical motodup ride costs around 2,000 riel.

In Uganda, i don't know of a school for Boda Boda riders or pilots, as they preffer to be called. However, you will find Hundreds of thousands of them in every corner of the country.

In Uganda, you may learn to ride in one hour and get your permit the next hour - as long as you have money to cough! You may as well start the business without the permit.

While you enjoy the ride, little will you know that the motorcycle you are using is a stolen one without any papers and the owner could have been mudered before the motor bike was obtained.

Next time you have to use Boda Boda or Okada, be ready for anything like careless accidents.

Do not say we never alerted.



Tourism Observer