A new wave of boda boda theft has hit Bushenyi District, causing fear among the riders.
Mr Godwin Beyamba, the chairperson of boda boda cyclists operating in central division, Bushenyi- Ishaka municipality, said at least five boda boda riders were attacked and three of them killed while the other two survived, but sustained injuries.
He attributed the situation to rising poverty levels caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“All along we have been targeted by criminals, but the trend went down during the Covid-19 induced lockdown because of the curfew. But, when the curfew was relaxed, criminals resumed their business since they have not been working,” he said.
Mr Beyamba further noted that many of the boda boda riders are killed by people known to them, who take advantage of the darkness.
However, Mr Cyril Tumuhaise, a boda boda rider at Bushenyi medical centre stage, blamed the issue on the rising prices of motorcycles on the market.
“You see, the prices of Boxers, the motorcycles we use for boda boda, are high. Currently, a motorcycle goes for about Shs5.2m,” he said.
Mr Cyril Tumuhaise, another rider, said the situation is hard for them to contain because they are also working hard, day and night to recover from the loan burdens.
Mr Innocent Twesigye, another boda boda cyclist, said: “I survived two attacks. One time, while carrying two people during the day, they made a stopover and shared a piece of bread with me. This piece was laced with chloroform, but it weakened me in the middle of town and people helped me to recover. My motorcycle was not taken.”
“The second time, I was waylaid by people in army uniform, but I made an alarm and the local people helped me out,” he added.
On Wednesday, police in Bushenyi District called a crisis security meeting with leaders of boda boda riders to devise means of stopping the killings and theft of boda bodas.
According to the Bushenyi District police commander, Mr Joe Komakech, the meeting was organised to warn boda boda riders against attackers.
“We have in the recent past lost three boda boda riders in Bushenyi town. As a way of protecting the riders, we have decided to caution them because our cardinal role is to protect life,” Mr Komakech said.
Mr Komakech, however, said enforcing the curfew to protect the cyclists has become difficult because of the mobility of the boda boda industry.
“We mount roadblocks to protect them but when you stop someone, they turn around and run away. It is becoming hard for us to protect such people,” he said
The Greater Bushenyi regional police spokesperson, Mr Martial Tumusiime, blamed boda boda riders for being reckless with their lives.
“These people are also not serious. We had taken advantage of the curfew, but many of them are flouting it. They want to work up to midnight not knowing that they are targeted. Adhering to the curfew would have saved them, but they do not want to listen. Let them park their motorcycles by 7pm and be safer,” Mr Tumusiime said.
The meeting came a week after Elmonth Barimunsi, a resident of Kashenshero Town Council in Mitooma District, was beaten to death and his motorcycle stolen near Bushenyi District headquarters at around 9pm last week.
In an interview with the Daily Monitor on Wednesday, Barimunsi’s brother Mr David Nuwahereza, who is also a boda boda rider, said the deceased would work during the day and retire to his home at 7pm.
Mr Nuwahereza, however, said on the fateful night, Barimunsi worked until 10pm and then decided to leave his stage (Mogas) to operate from central stage in Bushenyi town.
He was approached by two people to take them to unknown destination where they allegedly killed him.
“Mr Barimunsi was warned by his colleagues not to carry unknown people at night, but he insisted on taking them,” Mr Nuwahereza said.
Fix CCTV cameras
Mr Godwin Beyamba, the chairperson of bodaboda cyclists operating in central division, Bushenyi- Ishaka municipality urged government to mount night road blocks and fast track the functionality of CCTV cameras that were erected in Bushenyi town months ago.
“Government erected cameras in town, but they are not working. At least, these cameras would have helped to crack down on these criminals that are haunting us,” he said.
Source: Daily monitor