The ongoing lockdown aimed at curbing Covid-19 has left several boda boda riders in Jinja City jobless following the seizure of their motorcycles over alleged failure to make contractual remittances.
On June 16, President Museveni declared a 42-day lockdown, barring boda bodas from ferrying passengers and directing that they stop their operations by 5pm, with an exception of the sick upon presenting letters from authorities.
However, some non-banking financial institutions, which provide the motorcycles on hire purchase agreement, have started confiscating them due to alleged failure to make daily remittances.
On Nadiope East Street in Jinja City, several motorcycles are parked after they were confiscated by one of the providers.
Mr Hareed Mukisa, one of the victims operating at Jinja Bus Park Stage, said he had repaid Shs2.7m of the Shs7m loan, but the motorcycle was confiscated and put on sale after failing to meet his contractual obligations.
“I was supposed to pay Shs70,000 every week, but due to the Presidential directive barring us from carrying passengers, I couldn’t pay on time,” Mr Mukisa.
He added: “Although we were allowed to carry luggage, people were also restricted to working from their homes (except essential workers); so we have no work.”
Mr Grace Muloki, another boda boda rider in Jinja City, said his boss reclaimed the motorcycle after he failed to make the agreed daily remittance of Shs10,000.
“I am supposed to pay my boss Shs10, 000 everyday, but due to the lockdown, I was unable to do so because somebody staying in Wanyange is not allowed to access the City to buy commodities that I would have carried,” he said.
Mr Eria Musobya, the chairperson of Jinja Boda Boda Riders’ Association Ltd, said the government should have issued guidelines to companies that offer motorcycles on hire purchase, including a waiver until the lockdown is lifted, instead of confiscating the bikes.
Mr Nicholas Malende, the Jinja branch manager of Watu Credit Uganda, a non-bank financial institution that offers motorcycles to boda boda riders on hire purchase, said business is generally slow.
“Some boda boda riders call and inform us that they are unable to pay the loans because of the Presidential restrictions that bar them from carrying passengers and end up returning the motorcycles,” he said.
He added: “Before the Covid-19 outbreak in March last year, we used to give out between 35 and 40 motorcycles and our revenue collections were high. Before the recent lockdown, the number of motorcycles being taken was reduced to between 25 and 30. Currently, we are making no transactions because of the inter-district travel restrictions.”
Mr Malende said they have many branches but Jinja has the biggest number of clients because the boda boda business is thriving among the youth in Busoga Sub-region.