NewsEast & Horn AfricaKampala Cycling Club has a courier service that could pay it's way to the Olympics

Wed,28Jun2017

Posted on Tuesday, 11 April 2017 16:11

Kampala Cycling Club has a courier service that could pay it's way to the Olympics

By Reuters

In this Wednesday, June 12, 2013, an aerial view of Constitutional Square in Kampala, Uganda.Photo: Stephen Wandera/AP/SIPAYusufu Mbaziira founded a bicycle courier inside his small town, Kasubi, a Kampala suburb in 2002. 

The club was started as a way to reach out to youth from poor backgrounds and get them into the sport.

Yusufu hopes that the courier service can empower the riders financially and in return give back to the communities from where they come.

Members of the Kampala Cycling Club ride in and around Uganda's capital city delivering packages as part of a courier service provided by the club to raise money, give the members an income while keeping them in top cycling form.

Now Yusufu is using the delivery service to turn the club's riders into professionals with hopes of one day qualifying for the Olympics.

"Before, it was really very challenging maintaining cycling without having the source of income to support the cycling sport and we looked at what could we do to support the athletes to earn a living and also the entire community to benefit out of the sporting activities we are doing. Cycling was recognized in Uganda as the sport for the poor," he said.

Mbaziira, got the idea for the courier service while on a trip to the Netherlands in 2010 when he saw messengers running errands on bicycles.

Kampala's cycling courier service has become popular for its speed in a city where congestion often brings roads to a grinding halt.

The bicycles are also good for the environment and help to reduce air pollution in the city.

Worst road-safety records in Africa 

But cycling in Uganda, where there are no designated bicycle lanes and road users are notorious for breaking the rules, is tough.

The country has one of the worst road-safety records in Africa after Nigeria and South Africa, according to 2013, Global Status Report on Road Safety.

Henry Nkalubo, was forced out of work for one month due to a knee injury after he crashed into a pedestrian who he says was crossing the road recklessly.

Henry says cyclers are probably the least respected road-users in the city, but he still loves his job.

"Couriers are now the top riders in the country, not because that they are with Kampala Cycling Club as one of the biggest clubs but because they are full time on the bicycle. It gives them more time to train, it gives them some money to be in their pocket so as we are getting more couriers, we are getting more experienced riders that also puts Kampala on the world market, and puts Uganda on the international market. We expect that these couriers, at one day, one time, will win in the bike messenger uniform on the international platform," Mbaziira said.

Errands within the city cost an average of 5 US dollars and upwards of 7 US dollars outside Kampala.

The club has 30 permanent riders working as couriers and about 50 currently still in training.

 



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