I rarely take boda boda rides. I try as much as I can to make do with the pair of ostrich legs the Almighty gifted me. Each chilling tale of a boda boda accident turned lengthy spell on a hospital bed, to nurse severe injuries suffered from a Boda boda accident makes me say no to the numerous inquiries by boda riders if I would mind taking a flight through traffic. Watching them navigate traffic daily, like maestros also beats my understanding; I just cannot get it. How does one mere mortal dribble through tonnes of mean machines without batting an eye, in fear for loss of dear life?
But I don’t always have my way. At times, I’m forced to mount a boda boda, in haste (and with my heart in my mouth), because I must. A boda boda then becomes a necessary evil. I either fly to the mustn’t be missed appointment or sit through a slothful taxi ride, and forfeit a lifetime opportunity appointment.
I recently took one such boda boda ride, from Bukoto to Kamwokya, in a rush to make it to an appointment that I didn’t have on my to-do list in the first place. Halfway through my flight, I was inaudibly mumbling a plea to God to spare my limbs, just this once because an oncoming car had brushed past our two-wheeler by the skin of my teeth. Phew! That was close; a knock at the gates of heaven that went unanswered.
Once we had manoeuvred back to safety from the scare, I couldn’t help but curse the savage that had scared us to death. However, what took us by surprise was the fact that he did not notice he nearly ended two innocent lives only a few seconds back. The reckless pair-of-buttocks that nearly crushed into us was busy minding his phone; fingering away on the gizmo with one hand as he steered his car with the other. His divided attention was clearly engrossed on the device in the other hand whilst he sheepishly manoeuvred a deadly machine.
As we went on with our journey, my pilot turned accident-scare friend started a lecture on the yet-to-be-celebrated-by-scheming-Ugandans motoring vice, driving under the influence of social media. He recounted how many accidents he has witnessed and heard of (hopefully not been involved in) where the cause was nothing but divided attention. Thanks so much to this era of social media and smartphones. On further probing, he laid down a smacker, 6/10 people drive whilst on phone today (of course this is only but his own observation). I believed that number was low so I put it at 8/10. Unfortunately, our debate was cut short by the end of my flight atop his boda boda.
One thing I took away from the chat we had was an unheralded pandemic on the roads of Uganda. Whilst vices like driving under the influence of alcohol have for long been vehemently fought and safety concerns like driving without wearing a seatbelt heavily punished, little or even nothing is being done in regards to curbing the growing vice that is driving whilst on phone. The resounding voices against the mentioned vices must either be sleeping or culprits of driving whilst on phone that they do not notice the fish that is rotting from their heads.
On that note, let’s not wait for them to come up with a knee-jerk solution (like they have always done) when they wake up. Let’s start a get-off-the-phone campaign without the asking of scheming Ugandans (wait for them to do a massive campaign once they realise there is money to be harvested). Let’s not be pairs-of-buttocks, get off that phone you love dearly and cannot put down for even a second, we’re putting the lives of others at risk.