Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Q: What two types of bodas should you always try to take?

Sizzling hot! Check out the riding gear!
A: According to my friend Liam (the same one who saw the 'Christmas Boda' with tinsel, I'm hoping he'll write for this blog at some stage) told me two weeks ago there's two types of bodas you should always pick. The first one is an old/older boda, because it means that they've survived this long, i.e. they've also presumably survived a lot of time on the road. The second is a Muslim boda, as the chances are they won't drink and drive. Well my friend Liam would have loved Hassan Guma,  27, a boda I met on my recent trip to Gulu while outside the town's Coffee Hut, a favorite haunt of mzungus (oh, and Brenda. Hello Brenda!) There are about 23 bodas at Hassan's stage in Olayoilong, Gulu town. Over a fanta (a favorite boda bevvy - see he doesn't drink and drive!) he told me about his job and his life:

"I started my job in 2005, due to the problem of the war that has taken place in northern Uganda. My family actually failed to get money for school fees so I started riding a bodaboda. I have a mother. My father died in 1991 when I was still young. I was surviving on my mother, she was the one taking care of me. After dropping out off school I stated riding bodas and made my own fate.

So in demand he calls himself Network Bussy 24/7.
  During the war my mother went into exile in Masindi District (in western Uganda) for five years. I came back to Gulu in 2002. I started off renting bodas. In 2011 I went and got a loan. I've finished paying the loan now. It was an amount of three million Ugandan shillings ($1,132 USD) and I paid 64,700 UGX every week for about 60 weeks. The person loaning it made a profit of 750,000 UGX. I'm happy that I own the bike.

With the boda there's no problem it is good. Most of these youths are living on bodas because there's not any work. You can make money actually if you have a good customer. If you do good things that people like you can make money. If you have a good day you can make 15,000 UGX. Someitmes we may get 10,000 UGX we may get 30,000 UGX. The price just keeps on jumping like that.

A Muslim boda is a good boda, who will get you there safely, according to a friend.
We carry business people that work in offices, local shops. I take Ugandans and mzungus (foreigners). During this Christmas season is a time when we make money. On Christmas Day there are very many bodas working but we don't charge the passengers more. We have enough customers at our stage.

Robberies are there. The thieves don't rob during daytime, they wait until night. I try to stop working at 7pm because of this. I had one problem in the past, that was 2009. A man stole my bike and I went to Kalangala  (on Bugala Island, the largest of the Ssese Islands) for 18 months as I was scared but when I came back I recovered the bike and had this man charged and taken to court.

Thanks to The Coffee Hut for bringing Hassan and I together. HELLO BRENDA!
Accidents are a problem. They're a very big problem. Most of our guys here they know how to ride, but the problems are roads. You find potholes and things like that. You find the roads like this and the customers fall down and blame the bodas that they're bad drivers yet it's the road who's the one that's bad.

We put on clothes according to the season. Nowadays sellers are coming here from Kampala so there's competition in the business. All the clothes come from Kampala and some of them we buy from Lira.  Now we're in the dry season. When you put on white clothes it's not good. It's about being clean and smart, because when you're dirty you won't get very many customers. They fear a bad smell when you're riding.

Turns out I wasn't the only girl on Hassan's bike.  At first glance I thought it was Kylie Minogue but it wasn't.

After riding a boda for seven years can now take care of my wife and family. I live in town. I'm making money from the boda, there's no other place where I can get money.


Red shirt 6,000, from the local markets. T-shirts can start at 3,000.

Trousers 4,000.

Shoes 5,000, made out of tyres and sold at the local markets.

ON SUNNIES I need them but they get broken after a two days and they're a little bit expensive.

ON HELMETS Helmets, with the traffic laws, are needed to be put on but we do feel the hotness of the helmet when we put it on.

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