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Uganda: Cyclists go on rampage in Kampala city

By Godfrey Olukya
Posted on Thursday, 7 June 2012 15:24

Motorcyclists brought parts of Uganda’s capital, Kampala to a standstill Thursday, as they protested against police officers who allegedly demanded bribes and tortured them.

Hundreds of cyclists, known as “boda-boda”, engaged police in running battles, as they demonstrated by continuously sounding their horns and riding in huge numbers disrupting traffic and pedestrians.

Two police officers and a journalist were injured in the ensuing melee.

“Tukoye abserikale okutubonya bonya”, they shouted, meaning they were tired of being tortured by traffic police.

One of their leaders, John Kasulu said, “We are demonstrating because we are tired of police harassment. They arrest us and later ask for bribes before releasing us. They are rude”.

“They extort money from us and confiscate bikes of those who fail to bribe them,” Mathias Okello, a cyclist, alleged.

Recently police declared a campaign to rid Kampala of motorcyclists without driving permits and other traffic requirements, which led to the arrest of hundreds of boda-bodas.

Boda-bodas are used as taxis around east Africa.

The operation, according to police, was prompted by a public outcry over rampart accidents caused by the cyclists leading to loss of lives and injuries.

But traffic police officer, Jerome Oboth refuted the allegations of extortion, saying police wanted to enforce the law and prevent accidents.

“Most of those boda-boda operators sell their pieces of land in villages and buy motorcycles. They move to the city to transport people yet they do not have driving permits. They cause many avoidable accidents, and that is why we arrest them,” Oboth charged.

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