|Two in three weeks. It never rains but pours, when it comes to lady bodas in Ug, it seems.|
The song may say it's raining men, but in Uganda it seems it's raining lady motorbike riders at the moment. Okay, Bodaboda Baby may be exaggerating slightly. But please forgive her for getting carried away with excitement after discovering Flavia, Kampala's only female driver, as far as we know, just two weeks after meeting Keddy in Gulu. The meeting between the author of this blog and Flavia was set up by Ali, her regular driver, who this blogger wrote about in her last post. After meeting Steady Keddy in Gulu I told him I was keen to meet a female driver in the capital and he took me to see Flavia Nuwabine, 23, who's been working as a full time motorbike taxi in Kla for two years. Over a soda I got her story:
You're loaded down. Where are you going today?
I'm carrying soap and reams of paper across town.
Sometimes I carry luggage. There is someone who sends me for the shopping. If I have luggage I go with luggage. If I get customers we go. I do all. These people who are having shops they just call me and I go and shop for them. If I get a passenger on the way… They know me. They trust me.
What were you doing before this?
I studied hotel management and catering but they pay less money. My bosses were giving me 100,000 Ugandan shillings ($39 USD) a month which wasn’t enough for me.
How much do you earn now and what are your days and hours?
I earn 30,000 UGX ($12) a day. I work everyday but Sunday when I go for prayers and rest. I start at 7am and I finish at 6pm. Those hours are enough for me.
As possibly the only female boda in Kampala and one of only a handful, if that, in the whole of Uganda have you had some nasty comments directed at you?
To me they say it is very very bad, (that) I’m still a young lady. Those guys out there they look at it as a very bad job, but for me it’s okay because I’m earning.
Both ladies and guys they are the same. The ladies they say that job is for men. I don’t take comments to be an important thing to me because I’m doing my job.
They say nasty comments about me. I like my job, there is no problem with it because I’m earning my living. I’m doing my things, that’s all. I don’t have any problem with that bodaboda of mine.
|The "Hill of Death", which Ali took this blogger up (and down - eeeeeek!) on the way to meet Flavia.|
Is it a hard job?
It is hard to some extent because I can reach home and I’m tired. I get very bad back pain, and the chest. It’s very difficult.
Have you had any accidents?
I had a minor accident, I was knocked by the car. This was four months back. I got some injuries but now I’m okay. I went to a clinic. If you go to Mulago the treatment is not as good as they have a lot of people. If you go to these clinics you just pay and the treatment is better.
Do you get scared about having another crash?
I don’t get worried about accidents. If I wake up and I go to work I don’t expect accidents.
Have your friends had any accidents?
They killed one because he used to drive at night. He was hit on the head with an iron bar last December because he was having a new bike.
Do women drive differently from men?
We don’t rush. Like how you saw me driving... I care about my life. These guys they can rush for customers.
How can we stay safe on bodas in Uganda?
|It was Bodaboda Baby's regular driver, Ali, who introduced her to Flavia.|
Tell people to reduce on the speed. And when you ride a bodaboda when you have consumed something like alcohol is very, very bad. And they overspeed.
If you carry two passengers on the back it causes and accident. One is enough for me. I don’t want to offload my bike.
Do you have a stage?
(NB: stages are normally between 300, 000 ($116) and 500,000 ($194), according to Ali. There are about 20 or 30 people at a stage, he says).
I (will) get a stage and I start working officially. If you are working in town you earn a lot.
So what does the male boda say of Flavia? I asked Ali about the issue of female drivers and he replied: "I don't have a problem with them. It is good because she can get her money. Even I wanted to teach even my wife how to drive. It's good, because if she can drive I can buy for her a motorcycle and she starts working. If I get money."