Motorbike taxis in Uganda’s capital Kampala have adopted a registration system giving a unique code to every rider. To increase the personal safety of girls who use the bikes for their transport (or boda bodas as they are locally called), each rider is now easily recognisable. Should any of the boda riders harass or abuse a girl, he can be identified for the girl to report and get justice. The introduction of the registration resulted from intensive lobbying between the local authorities, the Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) youth advocates and the leader of the boda boda association.
Boda boda rides or motorbike taxis are the common mode of transport in Uganda’s capital Kampala. They are affordable and most of the time the only way to navigate the ever congested traffic in the city. However, the boda bodas are also notorious for their riders, who used to not shy away from abusing or exploiting vulnerable girls. This could range from improper behaviour and touching, to (sexual or physical) abuse and/or demanding payment in kind for their transport services.
Because of their behaviour, the boda boda riders became scapegoats in the area of Kampala that is considered the hotspot for commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). To clear their reputation and thus improve their business, the leader of the boda boda association teamed up with the area’s Mayor and the girl advocates from Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ anti-CSEC project. Together with the girl advocates, he visited the various boda boda stages to sensitise the riders and sign a Code of Conduct.
Next, the registration of all boda riders in the area was initiated. The riders’ leader influenced his counterparts in other areas of Kampala to adopt the registration. Together they agreed to also introduce uniforms for their riders. Each area has its own colour uniform, making the riders even more easily identifiable. For the girls, this means that their personal safety has greatly improved. Access to justice has now become only one report away to the Mayor’s office.