At this particular stage a driver earns, on average, between 20-30,000 UGX (8-12USD) per day. They each pay a membership fee of 300,000 UGX (approx. 120USD), which is pooled together for emergency uses that might include helping pay medical costs if a member is ill, or donating to their family if they lose a loved one.
Like most drivers I spoke with, John’s favorite aspect of driving a boda boda is the stable, up-front income with which it provides him:
“I’ve been working a long time in different jobs, including teaching, selling fish, and more. I like this job the most because I can earn enough money to buy land, and it is daily income business. Also, there are no creditors. This is very important in Uganda because people often don’t pay back.”
The challenges he sights are also universal among the majority of drivers, namely accidents and thievery: “So many drivers get into accidents. Also, you never know when someone will turn out to be a thief. I had a friend who got seriously beaten and his motorcycle stolen. He recovered, but this happens often. You pick someone up and then they ask to stop off in a vacant place where they can do whatever they want to you. If people have a gun or a hammer, they hit you over the head and steal your bike. This happens a lot. Most boda bodas fear this.”
One of the more lucrative boda boda stages in Kampala is in Kisementi. Higher traffic and more foreigners mean daily earnings between 40-50,000UGX (16-20USD), and higher. This also means a higher membership fee of 1 million UGX (approx. 390USD), which also serves as a screening device for drivers who are not yet up to Kisementi’s high financial par. Drivers here are regarded as quite responsible; their upscale clientele demands it.
Kisementi stage members Alex Bainobushikiro, 35, and Stephen Nkundizana, 34, enjoy the financial fruits of the job. Stephen is the defense secretary, in charge of security issues at the stage. He notes, “with this job I can support my family and help save to start other small businesses on the side.” As for challenges, he also mentions the high theft rate. “Thieves will sometimes come, hit you on a head with a hammer, and steal your money and motorcycle. It’s terrible.”