In Kampala, three companies now propose to book “bodas” through their mobile apps.
In order to avoid wasting time in the endless traffic jams of Kampala, people had better drive a boda, those motocycle taxis which have become a symbol of the Ugandan capital. Even if everyone uses them, the bodas remain a hazardous means of transport. Indeed, more than 7 000 people died in accident caused by bodas from 2014 to 2016 in Uganda. Drivers are poorly equipped and trained and do not have a good reputation. Several companies decided to step into this breach to offer secure services.
“As everyone uses boda here, it seemed obvious to us to launch this kind of new services in Uganda”, the spokesperson of Uber in East Africa says. The American corporation launched the motorbike taxi service three months ago, with about 100 drivers at the beginning. They can be called thanks to the same app as the traditional vehicles. If the test is successful, the company consider developing in other cities and perhaps other countries.
The initiative from Uber comes just after his Estonian competitor’s Taxify, which began one month earlier. Another company called SafeBoda was the first to launch its activity in Uganda. As from now, the competition will be tough. The entrepreneur of this third company explains that Safeboda had been launched in 2014 following alarming evidence of real a lack of security. They found out that middle-class people from Kampala seemed to be willing to drive in a more secured way, even if it means paying more. The success of the project turned out to be immediate. The company has now 1300 drivers and 60 employees.
According to some users, this motorcycle taxi service is much more reassuring. You can actually wear a helmet and you can access the names and phone numbers of your driver. The would-be drivers have to attend a 5 days training where the company insists in the road safety rules.
Driving for one of these companies seems also to be beneficial for drivers. One of them explains that his second activity enables him to have a decent income. He used to worry about whether he gets money at the end of the month. Now he has even been able to open a bank account.