Postcard from... Kampala


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The Independent Online

It’s quick. It’s cheap.  And any health and safety authority west of Cyprus would ban it in an instant. But from teenagers with their eyes glued to their mobile phones, to elderly women with improbably  large numbers of shopping bags, the boda-boda taxis  of the Ugandan capital Kampala are the choice  form of transport for just about everyone.

For the uninitiated,  boda-boda are motorbike taxis. For a very modest sum you can hail one in the street, jump on the back and whizz around to just about anywhere in town.

It’s fair to say that in some parts of Kampala the roads aren’t the best and the first few trips can be utterly terrifying – a situation not best served by the fact that the driver will inevitably have brought along their own helmet, even if the same luxury is not extended to the paying customers.

But once you’ve  overcome the first, “I  would never do this at  home” feeling, you’ll soon work out that taking a boda-boda is the only way to travel throughout Ugandan towns. After all, how else are you able to see these areas close-up, with the wind rushing through your hair and the sun on your face?

Of course, accidents  do happen. But then in Kampala you’re also less likely to be run over by a bus, since they are smaller than most in the London  and there are fewer of them. And travelling at 50mph with the driver sitting directly in front of you and wearing a crash helmet, it’s a lot less likely that he’s going to be  able to explain why he’s  voting Ukip at the next general election.