KAARO KARUNGI | GULU DISTRICT– About 22,000 Gulu boda-boda riders allied to Gulu City Boda- Boda Association are directing their anger at politicians, who they say used them, months to the January 14 general election to mobilize voter support and swiftly dumped them after.
The riders claim that during the election campaigns and on election day, several politicians begged them to escort them to campaign venues and ferry voters to several polling stations.
According to Emmy Ocen, an executive member and publicist for Gulu Boda–Boda Association, several politicians promised to support their association after the polls but many have since broken their word.
The association, which started in 2019, gets its operational funds from a membership fee of Shs 30,000 and Shs 25,000 registration fee from every motorcycle operating within the city.
“We supported them hoping that they will support us as well to address the several issues we are grappling with in life but up to now, no one has ever even paid a courtesy call to our office,” he said.
Ocen said some politicians promised to inject funds in the association’s revolving fund so that members can buy their own motorcycles.
He said 80 percent of the association members hire motorcycles. They do not have their own.
However, Morris Boris Okello, a losing candidate in the municipal councilor race, accused boda-boda riders of being sell-outs.
“We entrusted some of them to be our campaign agents but on the last day, many were bought off. Let them go to those people they supported to help them out,” he said
But Gulu City Mayor-elect Alfred Okwonga said the boda-boda association will be helped. He urged the cyclists to wait for the newly elected leaders to get into office.
“As for me, boda-boda riders did a commendable job and plans are underway to support them,” he said.
But James Otukene advised the association’s leaders to stop counting on politicians for help since they are seasonal. He said they need to tap into government programs geared towards supporting the youth who are the majority of the Gulu boda-boda riders.
“Let our leaders have a sense of direction in whatever is being done so that we stop lamenting,” he advised.