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Boda Boda Patrol (Public Motorbike Transporters)

After the recent passing of the so called Morality law in Uganda, several idlers took it upon themselves to undress women that they deemed indecent in public to "shame" them. On the other end of the spectrum, another group of Boda Boda riders ( public motorbike transportation) and touts also apprehended a man who was notorious for undressing women in public. There must therefore be a way of turning this absurd situation into something that works for the benefit of women. The Kampala City council Authority last year registered over 300,000 Boda Boda riders into their system for purposes of safety.

Photo of Apiyo Oweka-Laboke
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Provide a short description of your idea

My idea is a campaign that tackles the problem of women being attacked and harassed as they try to find safe transport to and from work and social commitments. Often at night they are raped and some even killed or abducted for ransom usually by their transporters. The idea is to provide safe, reliable and affordable transport services for women in low income urban areas by empowering Boda Bodas (motorbikes and cyclists) with the tools they need to protect women and girls in the community. adequate training and a step by step instruction manual on what to do when they witness an attack, training in First Aid, safety gear like helmets and reflector jackets are all tools that will help them in protecting women. Women will be given numbers to reliable transporters to avoid taking random Bodas on the road side. This will translate into increased income for the *Boda Boda Patrol* registered Bodas which will be the biggest motivation factor for them to participate in this campaign.

Get a user's perspective on your idea.

User: Agnes Kampiire Age: 24 years old Occupation: office Assitant Do you use boda Bodas? Agnes: yes, all the time when do you normally use them? Agnes: when I am going to work, sometimes for office errands, when I am going home and also at night when I am meeting up with my friends. Why do you chose to use Boda Bodas? Agnes: Jam, the traffic jam is always too much especially in the morning and I have to be at work early. So its very easy to get through traffic on a Boda Boda. Do you think Boda Bodas can champion the protection of women? Agnes: Why not? especially at night, I only use Boda Bodas that I know because you never know what could happen to you. Sometimes you hear stories about iron bar thieves who attack you and rob you on the way home. But Boda Bodas are fast and if you have one you can trust, then you can feel safe. How can we motivate them to help with this cause? Agnes: you can motivate them by giving them business and recommending them to other clients or even paying them more money like a tip when they get you home safe. Quotes from other users Laureene Ndagire 28, says "You shouldn't forget the target group here: women and girls and empowering them through safety... That while you want to achieve this through safety by boda boda guys, they are the biggest instigators, heaven and hell in one... (Sorry to put it so crudely) Good luck to you" Edmund Kamugisha 32 "It is an amazing idea that just need small impetus... I doubt the boda chaps would go against it.." Quote Rowena Musinguzi 32, Boda Boda user when asked about what the motivation for the Boda Bodas would be. "Loyal customers. I imagine any lady would prefer a patrol boda rider to a regular one especially given the rising crime rate... preference at establishments like hospitals, clinics, offices and bars where people leave at odd hours. They could have a hot line with which to call a patrol boda for their patients/employees/patrons who need a safe ride home... advertising revenue if they could get branded safety vests identifying them as patrol boda riders and a corporate entity could buy space on their vests in much the same way that corporations buy space on sports jerseys. I know lots of brands that serve everyday households would love to associate with such an initiative. Always sanitaries, Mukwano soap and cooking oils, Royco spice mix... etc. And such advertising revenue could go into a pool to buy the riders health insurance and to buy comprehensive accident and theft insurance for the bikes which are their livelihood." See attached user experience map
A recent Independent study showed that 39% of Boda Boda users were women and the average age was 28 years old. 
Interviews from the same study showed that users of either type of boda boda are drawn mainly from workers, the business community, students, and health facility patients. People in wage and salaried employment accounted for a little over 43% of users, the self-employed about 38%, with students as an important minority (18%)
There are currently over 300,000 motor bikes operating in the capital Kampala according to recent news reports. Several initiatives are coming up by the Capital City Authority and organisations like Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative are traing Boda Boda riders in basic road safety. Tugende is also a rising Boda Cooperative helping the disadvantaged to buy and own their own motor bike. Working in partnership with these groups a training on procedures to be followed when they encounter an attack can be added to the already existing training programmes. The same way they are now adapting to helmets and reflector jackets after initial resistance I believe i sthe same way the will take ownership in protecting women. Its about creating awareness among this particular demographic and giving them something to be proud of. The press can also cooporate by printing articles heralding some of these heroes and this will motivate others to join in the fight against gender based violence.
Boda Bodas therefore play a key role in enhancing the mobility of women.

Implementation outline
Submitted by: Apiyo Oweka-Laboke
Proposed Implementor: Tugende
What work has already been done on the idea?
  • Tugende has already registered and outfitted several Boda Bodas into their organization. They have partnered with several organizations to offer services like food delivery already where you can order from any restaurant and have the Boda Bodas pick the food up. Their reputation for being reliable is solid and they are very eager to add this safety for women component into their list of services to the community.
  • I have also approached Kampala Boda Tours, which offers  tours on the back of the Boda Boda for people interested in seeing the city and experiencing it in a more intimate way. They too have a network of Boda Bodas that can implement this idea.
  • I have involved a cross section of people through social media like Facebook to get their ideas on what would be a motivating factor for Boda Bodas to participate in this project.
  • I have spoken to a few Boda Boda riders in my neighborhood including Medad my trusted transporter who takes me to and from work every day.
  • I have also spoken to a marketing expert who believes Private companies will jump at the idea to endorse this project as a CSR project.

1. Further discussions with implementers to come up with a work plan
Month 1
2. Recruit coordinator for the project under Tugende
  Month 1-2
3. Establish partnership with the police linking to their hotline for reporting crime and response team.
Month 1-2
4. Design proposal concept, present proposal to private companies interested in support in terms of marketing and publicity
Month 2-3
5. Conduct training workshop with registered riders and Police
Month 3
6. Launch awareness campaign through community radio and posters with the contact details and numbers for Boda Boda patrollers
Month 4
7. follow up by monitoring user statistics
Month 7 onwards
8. Interview users on their experiences
Month 7 onwards
9 Follow up with police on reported cases
Month 7 onwards
10. Conduct an evaluation of the campaign to gage impact on violence against women and girls
Month 12
There is massive potential in replicating this idea and the awarenes to the near by towns if it is successful in Kampala. Boda Boda associations exist in every town and with the right incentive they would be willing to participate in this campaign.

Explain your idea in one sentence.

The idea is to use the massive network of Boda boda riders and their cooperatives to champion the protection of women as in the past they have been very influential in political campaigns and even company product promotions.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

Women are constantly being harassed by touts and idlers and also very often Boda Boda riders. There is a boda boda stage at almost every corner in the city and they often have their eyes and ears to the ground and know just about anything that is happening in the city. Having them on alert will reduce night time attacks on women who are trying to get home from a late shift and also reduce the public undressing of women.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

The idea will benefit mostly the women in Kampala who face violence and harassment every day that they venture out of home. It will also benefit the Boda Boda riders giving them more credibility in the eyes of the public who at the moment consider them a "necessary evil". It will also benefit our local law enforcement who will have informers all over the city therefore easing their work. Success will be monitored with the help of the police and various partners previously mentioned including the City Council Authority. stats on how many incidents were thwarted or reported cases by the Boda Boda riders. Stories form survivors in the community will also be used to quantify the results.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

I would be able to implement this idea working in partnership with another organisation that is working in close proximity with the Motor bike riders like Tugende Boda Cooperative, the Kampala City Council Authority which legally registers all Boda Bodas or the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative (a humanitarian organisation) which is providing safety training for the riders would also be equipped to push this cause. Transcribed is some pointers from Michael Wilkerson who heads Tugende 1. Tugende is planning on launching branded bikes in the not too distant future and we have our own strategy which ties in with some of the suggestions above including identifiability, advertising, building relationships with customers based on a higher standard of safety and respect etc. We will also have our own helmets/reflectors at least until the KCCA launches their required version. 2. Given my concerns about simply empowering yet another vigilante group which could cause its own violence, I think training or a toolkit of how to intervene quickly and safely as well as how to be more respectful may be the easiest and most important first step. 3. The problem with a hotline, is as someone mentions above bodas are often robbed and we have to weigh how a hotline might make it easy for thieves to lure them where they want. This is why we are not planning on it for our brand, and also, many people would use this late at night when risks from getting hit by other drivers are also higher. 4. Besides partnering with us directly, some difficult to copy sticker or other marker of achievement which could show drivers have gone through your training and or volunteered to be part of the solution could be more easily implemented than your own network and uniforms from scratch. 5. My neighbors work for raising voices, which focuses on preventing gender violence. They may already have some educational toolkits to prevent reinventing the wheel, as well as ideas about what works and what doesn't for intervening in a "hot" situation.

Where should this idea be implemented?


How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

using the nearest Boda Boda station close to my home where I am familiar with most of the Boda Boda riders, I could test this idea on a smaller scale using about 10 riders. I could print out a few posters that I will hang up in the estate that houses a couple of hundred people. Information on safe, reliable and cheap transportation with a number they can call will be included in the poster. Monitor and record the number of calls for the service.

What might a day in the life of a community member interacting with your idea look like?

Boda Bodas operate where more conventional services are uneconomic or physically impossible. They are found in urban and rural areas where they act primarily as feeder services to the towns or major public transport routes. They help with the commute in the mornings when people are trying to get to work and in the evening when they get back from work. The convenience they provide because of their ability to maneuver through traffic and to reach areas other public transport means do not makes them extremely popular especially in low urban areas. They reach isolated areas which are usually prime spots for attack and its for this reason that they would be the ideal group to engage in the protection of women and girls. Night time trips are especially more popular and tend to be more expensive for the obvious danger it provides.
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Picture was taken this morning with my Boda Medad. The Civil Society organisation are promoting HIV awareness using Boda Bodas as well. They distributed these reflector jackets just yesterday.


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Photo of Maria Rosa Galter

I love your idea. Boda boda drivers can often be intimidating for women and they are all over the place. Training them to watch out for women's safety is such a great way to direct their energy towards making Kampala a safer place for everyone. Great job.

Photo of Apiyo Oweka-Laboke

I agree

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