Through their association, the National Federation of Professional Cyclists Network (NFPC), the bodaboda riders in Uganda sued Government for not allowing them to resume passenger transport.
These riders state that the government is acting in a discriminatory manner by allowing other businesses, particularly other public transport service providers, to reopen as bodaboda remain restricted against carrying passengers.
The suit was filed in the High Court in Kampala, Mr. Fred Kagaba, Mr. Twaha Semakula, Mr. Yassin Ssemujju, and Mr. Umar Jjuko Kateregga are the leading petitioners in this case.
In the suit, they are seeking “a declaration that government refusing people engaged in the bodaboda transport business to carry passengers is not acceptable or demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society and, therefore, an infringement and threat to their economic right to carry out their lawful occupation, a trade which is contrary to the Constitution.”
President Museveni partially relaxed the lockdown and reopened Public transport, allowing public vehicles to carry half the normal passengers, however, bodabodas remain restricted to carrying only cargo.
According to President Museveni, there is barely any social distance between the bodaboda rider and the passenger, a scenario that can easily increase the spreading rate of Covid-19.
In defense, bodaboda riders state that the bodaboda does not spread the Covid-19 more than the other forms of transport such as private cars, minibusses that have been allowed to carry more than one passenger in an enclosure.
These riders add that unlike in enclosed cars, bodabodas are open and the rider does not face the passenger therefore according to them, their jobs cannot in any way accelerate the spread of COVID-19.
Through their lawyers of Wameli & Co. Advocates, the boda-boda cyclists want the court to compel the government to reopen their business of carrying passengers, which they say is their only source of livelihood and income.
After being restricted from working for over three months, they want the court to order the government to make arrangements for them to access some financial support until they are allowed to resume operations.
Bodaboda riders are willing to abide by all the measures put in place by the ministry of health to combat the spread of COVID-19 such as wearing face masks, washing hands, and regular sanitizing in case they are allowed to resume work.
By Nsunjo Erica