BODABODAS are the quickest means of transport in Kampala mainly because they do not get stuck in traffic jams as much as vehicles do.
They are small and easily weave through the long lanes of traffic. However, these two-legged speed monsters are the most dangerous way to travel.
They are also some of the least insured automobiles. David Tumuhaise, the technical manager of Uganda Insurers Association, says very few motorcyclists are insured comprehensively. He explains that even with the awareness drives they carry out, the motorcyclists are still reluctant to take out insurance since there are no immediate returns.
Lawrence Niwabaine, the Kampala Metroplolitan Traffic Police chief, says the leadership of the bodaboda drivers is fragmented, and makes it hard to know the number of the boda bodas in Kampala city alone. But the figure is estimated at 250,000 bodabodas.
The motorcyclists evade licence payments and insurance costs and only pay when the Police harass them in the process of enforcing the law. Only about 40% of the motorcyclists in Kampala are estimated to have paid third party insurance and this is also because of previous police operations. Only about 2% of the motorcyclists are insured comprehensively.
Tumuhaise says the terms and conditions for insuring a motorcycle are presentation of a log book and detailed information about the owner. When going to present a claim after an accident, a cyclist is expected to present a police statement, medical report in case the victim is taken to hospital, driver’s statement and a driving permit.
Tumuhaise says that few claims are made by the clients considering the high rate of accidents and the number of those that pay insurance. In 2010, 184 motorcyclists died on spot, 146 passengers died on spot and 3,806 motorcycles were involved in accidents. Niwabine says the difference in the totals of the motorcycles is due to the fact that minor accidents are not reported by bodabodas. The reports also show that 1,288 motorcyclists sustained serious injuries and had to be admitted to hospital and the number of passengers who sustain serious injuries is estimated to be 1,400.
Godfrey Buyondo, the underwriting manager at Lion Assurance Company, says: “Motorcycles are high risk since they can easily be stolen. In terms of motorcycle related accidents, the risk is not as high as that of cars since the bodabodas carry less people.”
Buyondo says they receive about five claims of stolen motorcycles every six months. “We encourage motorcyclists to insure comprehensively since theft is their biggest challenge,” says Buyondo.
He says a few motorcycles are insured with their company but most of them belong to corporate companies, with some private commercial. The fleets are usually registered under corporate companies and they include about 20 motorcycles. The rate for insuring fleets is lower because with insurance it is mainly about numbers so a bargain is given.
"Most of the motorcycles registered as individually are usually used for bodaboda and the insurance rate is 10% unlike the fleets that have 7.5%," Buyondo says.