Have you ever met a man who steals your attention without struggle, he takes your brain and gives it a super ‘brainal’ (Intellectual orgasm) with his firm character and out pour-age of knowledge.
There is nothing that earns respect so easily with out a sweat like a man of knowledge, understanding and example.
Allow me appreciate forty year old Mr. Katongole Richard, a well trained and submitted rider under Safe Boda Uganda.
Our ride started from Kiwatule, Najjera road to UMA show grounds in Lugogo on Thrusday, 3rd August, 2017.
The first blow was Katongole’s humble request for me to put on the passenger’s helmet. It could have been okay because I had experienced this in Rwanda last year (2016) when I traveled for mission with phaneroo ministries. But then the difference was, this was happening in Uganda. And there was no tension in the air of a clobber on your head if you take a boda ride without a helmet. No, it was personal will and discipline.
Katongole is a typical Ugandan from Mityana, currently satying in Wankulukuku Kitebi with his one wife (a woman) and six children. I think this should be evidence enough that this man, is not some sophisticated White person oriented by the civilization of the West in road safety and blah blah. No, he is just a normal disciplined Ugandan.
Anyway, so when we got to the new Kira road traffic lights, Mr.Katongole froze time when he stoped at the line as soon as the red light popped on. If you have used a boda boda in Uganda before, then you know that these motorcycles seem automatized to never really stop when the red lights turn on. All motorcyclists will be seen to continuously ride way ahead of all other road motorists and just anxiously wait at the edge to take off on the blink of a green.
Well Mr.kantongole’s promptness to stop and patience to wait for the lights to transition from red to orange and then to green as he calmly resisted all the intimidating hooting from the taxi drivers in queue was not just a conversation stater, it left me thinking; meehhnnn hats off for this man!
My curious self could not help but ask;
Me : Why did you have to do that?
Katongole : Most boda boda riders do not understand the functionality of traffic lights. But safe boda came to remind and train us in road safety rules for bodaboda riders. That is why I would advise anybody who comes to Kampala to look out for safe bodas (The riders in orange jackets with two helmets). You will be assured of your safety because the both the rider and passenger will have a helmet.
We have been trained by traffic authorities in Uganda and that’s why we take the traffic rules seriously. It is the reason I stopped at the traffic lights.
Me : Do you have a speed limit as you ride?
Katongole : Truthfully, we do. The passenger who is also my customer is the boss. I will be carrying someone on my motorcycle but back at home he could be responsible for even 50 or 100 people. And when you ride him recklessly, you are betting with lives of very many people at ago.
In town, we ride at 35 or 45 km/hour. Unless you are in the outskirts and you are not carrying a passenger, then you are allowed to go up to 60km/hour. We respect all road users from pedestrians to other motorists.
Me : What have you gained from being a safe boda rider that you would never have earned, if it wasn’t for the safe boda umbrella?
Katongole : In my entire life, I never imagined that I could afford to hold a smartphone of more than UGX280,000 (Approximately 85 dollars). But now I have an L8. These phones are given to us by Safe boda and then we can pay back in installments. My life has changed in the time that I have worked with safe boda.
Even the clients that I transport now, I get them through this phone. They do not have to call me, but rather just get to me via the Safe boda app. Clients search and find us through the app.
Even if someone does not have cash on them, I can take them to their destination as long as the person has credit on his or her phone. I find my payment at the office by the day’s close.
Me : What do you gain by following the safe boda rules?
Katongole : First of all I am a Ugandan. Secondly I am a parent of six. I do love my children and they also need me, as well as many other people that I hold different relationships with. So imagine if I rode recklessly and lost my life, I would hurt so many people that I care about. So the safe boda rules are majorly for my own good.
Me : What do you have to say to other boda riders who are not under safe boda?
Katongole : I humbly request them to join Safeboda because it is not only different but also rooted. Safeboda could in time become a dominating transport giant in Kampala.
Kudos to safe boda for being pivotal promoters of digital for great change in Africa, in Uganda.