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The increase in the number of bodabodas in Busoga sub- region is affecting repayments under the hire-purchase agreement.

Fred Omach, the Buyende Bodaboda Association chairperson, disclosed that with the increase from 60 to almost 320 members over the last five years, overall earnings have decreased drastically.

“Moving a population of about 500 people in the area every day at about sh2,000 per person would earn each rider sh16,000 on average. Nowadays, one would earn only sh3,000 a day after the bodabodas increased by almost five times,” he explained.

Omach said some members had been forced to sell their houses to avoid defaulting in the hire-purchase scheme. “Beneficiaries are given bikes from supplier outlets in Jinja or Iganga. However, the repayment of sh70,000 per week until one pays the full amount of sh6m, is of late a burden,” Omach said. He made the remarks during a meeting for riders under their umbrella body, Busoga Bodaboda Association, at Bukooma church premises in Luuka district on Monday.

Abdullah Balunywa, the LC3 chairperson of Bulamagi in Iganga district, shared a similar view, saying since there are many bodabodas, the profit margin had dropped. “In Bulamagi sub-county alone, we have an estimated 1,000 motorcycles spread out at CMS, Walugogo, Namasoga and Bulowoza stages,” Balunywa said. “After paying sh500,000 upfront, one rides the motorcycle while it is still property of the supplier but could be taken away at any time upon defaulting.

Since we are many, business is low, so many motorcycles are confiscated almost weekly and stored at either the Iganga or Jinja outlets,” Salim Magala, from Namutumba park stage, said. Issa Saidi, a local supplier of hire-purchase bikes, explained that a Bajaj motorcycle costs about sh4.5m in cash but on hire-purchase terms, one parts with about sh6m.

He acknowledged that his loan recovery team often confiscates the motorcycles of defaulters both at the Jinja and Iganga offices. “Once the defaulter pays up, he gets the motorcycle back. This enables us acquire more motorcycles for other beneficiaries,” he said.

Way forward

Majid Dhikusooka, the Namayingo Resident District Commissioner, said as a former bodaboda rider, he understands the plight of the rider. “I used to ride a bodaboda before joining politics. It is what made me what I am today, so let their concerns be looked into,” Dhikusooka said.

David Balaba, the Iganga mayor, called on the Government to give the youth motorcycles as part of the Youth Livelihood Fund drive.

“Youths could be identified at respective stages and given bikes on hire-purchase basis. This would save them from the hardships currently faced with astute business-minded suppliers,” he proposed.

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