I came across a flier this morning that I found as humorous as I did frightening. I wanted to share it with you, perhaps deepening your insight into just one of the many day-to-day rituals of being a Kiva Fellow in the field. This is a sequel, of sorts, to my earlier blog. I promise to move away from (no pun intended) the transportation theme!

I paraphrase:

Public Transport in Uganda: Be aware. Be very aware!

Over 2,000 people are killed each year on our roads. In terms of all fatalities and injuries, 42% are passengers, 33% are pedestrians and 14% are motorcyclists.

Your choices for public transportation include:

1. Matatu

A Matatu is a minibus, which holds up to 14 passengers. Matatus operate long a fixed route, stopping anywhere along the way to pick up passengers. They are almost always in poor condition, recklessly driven and without insurance cover or a licensed driver and don’t value their lives. Matatus are one of the primary contributors to the increasingly unsafe road conditions in Uganda. They are characterized by*:

§ Overloading of passengers – ü

§ Driving above the speed limits – ü

§ Swerving between traffic – ü

§ Disregard for other rnotorists and traffic laws – ü

§ Driving on pavement – ü

§ Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs – ?

§ Inexperienced drivers – ?

(*Note: items followed by a ü are ones I’ve personally experienced after just a few days.)

If you choose to use Matatus:

§ Wear a seatbelt

§ Get out if you don’t feel safe

§ Tell driver to slow down

§ Avoid overloaded taxis

2. Boda Boda

A Boda Boda is a motorcycle taxi, typically a Honda 50 and is often in poor condition with no helmet for its passengers. Although they are a cheap and quick form of transport, Boda Bodas are renowned for their reckless behavior. Common examples*:

§ Riding through red lights – ü

§ Riding too fast – ü

§ Riding on the wrong side of the road – ü

§ Riding on sidewalks and road islands – ü

§ Often bike is in bad repair – ü

§ Swerving between traffic – ü

§ Complete disregard for other motorists – ü

(*Note: items followed by a ü are ones I’ve personally experienced after just a few days.)

If you choose to use a Boda Boda:

§ Wear a helmet

§ Choose a bike in good repair

§ Tell driver to slow down

§ One passenger per bike

The flyer then goes on to list emergency numbers and location of hospitals and clinics.

I’ve been to New York many times and have some legendary taxi stories. Yet, I’ve never seen a flier like this in NYC. New York cabbies are mere plebes compared to these guys in Kampala…


About the author

Bill Brick