A local artists batiks
We are now on the 4th type of transport here in Uganda. Boda Boda's aka motorcycles. They come in 50 cc- 125 cc's. In the last few months they have been replacing the 50cc's with larger bikes and now we are seeing more of the 100cc's. If you know anything about motorcycles/scooters than you know 50cc's don't go very fast.
These bikes again like the other modes of hired transport are owned by someone and the driver drives it for the owner. They drive around with little to no gas in them so at anytime you might run out of fuel and instead of getting out and pushing the bike like you have to do with the taxi's, you get off and walk.
Now these drivers, like the Matatu drivers, most likely do not have licenses and have had no formal training on how to drive a motorcycle. In a country where might makes right, the Boda is the lowest on the pecking order on the roads. Cars and especially Matatu's completely ignore the Boda's and sometimes I think they play games to see how many they can run off of the road in a day. No Joke!
When you get on a Boda, the price is not really set and so you have to negotiate with the driver as to how much you are willing to pay for the ride. Then they tell you how much they want and you go back and forth until you reach an agreed price and then off you go. You want to pick the newest looking bike with the highest amount of cc's. Then, when you get on you tell the driver that you will pay him extra if he gets you to where you are going alive and unhurt. This may or may not happen. Once you get to your destination they always tell you that it was farther than they thought and you,"add" to them. That means that they want more money. They only do this to the Muzungus as they think we don't know how much things cost and we all have a million dollars in the bank. Wouldn't that be nice?
The drivers think they are exempt from all traffic laws, driving on the wrong side of the road, on the sidewalks and medians. They run red lights ( where there are some) turn from the wrong lanes, swerve in and out of traffic do u-turns when ever and where ever.... They use the bike to transport people, livestock ( I have seen goats, pigs and chickens tied on the back) building materials and feed for animals. It really is amazing what they can fit on the bikes, balance and then transport. It is not fun however getting behind them on the road when they are carrying a large load on a 50cc bike. They put along at about 5 mph. Forget that if they are on any kind of an incline they are barley moving. They then have to get someone to run behind and push it up the hill.
They are great if the traffic is bad which now days is every day and when you are downtown and need to get somewhere where it is to far to walk, but to congested to drive a car or Matatu. When you NEVER want to get on one is at night. The drivers are notorious for being drunk or high when it gets dark. My middle daughter Kaci always has the rule that she finds the smallest man with the biggest bike so that if he wants to get funny with her she is bigger than he is and can intimidate them. My son Jesse carries a big knife in his pocket and my other daughter Makinzi carries a tazer.
David rides them into town quite a bit as they are cheaper than taking the car if he is alone. He never has any issues with them. Last year he was riding on one and passed a truck that had run over a Boda and had killed the passenger by running over his head. Smashed it completely flat. Not a pretty sight.
On a lighter note....... Some funny stories.
I was on one a few months ago and was riding downtown. It was a busy day and I told the guy when I got on to drive very careful with me. He was swerving in and out of traffic and then got in a traffic jam. He proceeded to try and squeeze through some of the cars at a stop and I told him it was too small of a space. He proceeded to yell back at me,"you fit, you fit". As I was yelling back at him, "no I won't" he smacked me into a Matatu. A few minutes later and a bruised knee, I was at my destination with the driver feeling very proud that he had gotten me to our destination. I guess a few bruises is considered "careful".
My sister was riding one and they had not put enough gas into it so when they got to a large hill the bike was having problems making it up. He proceeded to tell her to, "get off" she was "too fat" and made her walk up the hill. Once at the top she got back on and arrived at her destination. He had the nerve to ask her for full fair even though she had walked part of the way!
Upside: They get you where you are going fast and they are relatively inexpensive and they can give you a real rush!
You can also rent them from the drivers and ride them around yourself. My son Jesse does this every weekend with his friends while waiting for his motorcycle to arrive on our container.