More Transport Tales from Kampala

The bodaholics and taxi lovers that I connect with on social networks sent me such a nice collection of stories that I had enough material for a second Stiletto Point article. Big thanks to everybody who contributed. First of all, y’all saved me from having to write that Sunday. Secondly, thank you for helping me paint a picture (wordpicture?) of what it is like to use public transport in this our chaotic and often funny city.

Kampala, home of organized chaos  From Kabiza.com

Kampala, home of organized chaos
From Kabiza.com

Akech: I once boarded a taxi from Gayaza to town. When one lady got off off at Kubiri , the conductor started to call for people to come in. Unfortunately, that woman had thrown up all over the back seat. Passengers of course refused to sit there. The conductor then said, “Whoever accepts to sit there will pay half price.” In unison, the whole taxi shouted, “yiiiyyiii?!’

Laura: A taxi I was once in stopped to wait for customers in a sunny spot. When a lady sitting next to a window complained that she was getting sunburnt, the conductor said, “Woviira mu waliwo umbrella?” – meaning “Is there an umbrella at your stop?”

Notice that there is a guy behind the boda guy? Where is he resting his feet?

Notice that there is a guy behind the boda guy? Where is he resting his feet?

Kyakyo: One time, I flagged down a boda along Acacia Avenue. He was wearing a helmet.  It was around 9pm. I didn’t bother negotiating and  just said “stage” and he grunted. I hoped on. As we approached the now Mish Mash area, he reached back and touched my thigh! Indignantly, I shouted, “excuse me!” but he insisted on touching me. When I told him to stop the bike, he took off his helmet and that is when I noticed that he was Indian. I just told him to scoot on.

Kumbuka: In my O’Level at Mwiri college, I was once sent home for school fees. Fare from the Jinja park to home had always been 2500/=. All through the journey, I sat confident that I had enough money, not knowing that fare had been increased to 3000/= . When I paid, the conductor asked for the 500/=. I didn’t have it.  I explained that I was just from school and didn’t know about this increment and even started faking tears but the man wasn’t having any of it. He said,”Mwe kusomelo temusoma mawulile?” Meanwhile, he was taking my shoe!

kla247

Achetun: Yesterday evening, I boarded a taxi near Mulago hospital. As soon as we joined the main road, a Police bike followed us. Two officers ordered our driver and conductor to get out and sign in their book. They then issued a fine demand note. When they asked see the driver’s permit, he claimed to have left it in town. It was when the police unleashed another ticket that the conductor started to complain bitterly, saying they had received three other tickets that day. Altogether they had been charged over 800K in one morning. We were chased out of the taxi and it drove off via Yusuf Lule road.

Ntezi:  I always have conversations with my boda men, especially when we’re travelling long distances. Also in the unusual or ungodly hours I find myself sharing real life experiences with them. This is my way of ensuring I am humanized in their minds, so that they abandon any evil plans they might have. Hasn’t failed me yet.

Osweri: I’d always wondered about people in taxis who make a spectacle of themselves over 500/- until I boarded some taxi to Ntinda (1500). I told the tout I was disembarking in Nakawa. Translation: I’m paying 1000, right? Long story short, my beautiful leather handbag is sans a shoulder strap now. I’m mad and mournful, but without an ounce of embarrassment. I need to stop talking and just buy that scooter already!

Bodaholics

Bodaholics of Kampala

I’m with Marvis. I spend so much time and money on boda bodas that it would be a super smart move if I bought a scooter. Perhaps I would even hire a rider.

Do leave a story of your own in the comment section.

See you next Monday.

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Kampala Traffic: I am not a cow.

Recently, I was weaving through traffic, just trying to get to the other side of the road with the breakfast muwogo I’d bought from Kamwokya market.  As I was about to plant my foot on the pavement, a boda boda whooshed past me. You guys the bike passed so close  that it would have hit my belly I hadn’t contracted it in fear.

No I do not have a potbelly. It’s an adorably round affair that contracts when I’m terrified.

Now this bodaman, instead of riding away grateful that he hadn’t caused an accident, turned his head and yelled, “You stupid woman! You cross the road as if you are a cow!”

To be honest, I am not a great road crosser. I like roads best when they are empty. Anything but that and I’ll (usually) either skitter across like a large dudu, or make fast friends with whoever else is crossing at the moment. Roads make me nervous, but not stupid. I wasn’t to blame this time. The man and his motorcycle appeared out of nowhere and tried to kill me dead. Full of annoyance and  embarrassment, I squeaked something at his disappearing back about his mother and her morals.

Later that day, after I’d mostly forgotten about this incident, I clicked a link that Ukamaka Olisakwe posted about three peoples’ experiences in Nigerian traffic. The stories painted what I thought was a fascinating picture of  Nigerian city life that I was determined to do a Ugandan version.

I wrote a blogpost and a few thousand updates/tweets asking  y’all to share some of the interesting experiences you’ve had while using public transport in Uganda. It wasn’t easy. The stories came dripping, then trickling, then rushing in (thank goodness). I will post some today and others on Thursday.

Ugandans survive this everyday! Picture from tugendedriven.com

Ugandans survive this everyday!
Picture from tugendedriven.com

Darlyne: One time, before getting on a boda, I politely greeted the rider. We chatted some on the 10-15 minute ride to my house. It was just polite conversation. Weather, traffic, such things. When I got off and paid, I also wished him a good day. He then asked me to marry him. Apparently, his other passengers don’t greet and bid adieu. I told him I was sure he would one day find a good woman but I was already taken.

For all those interested in finding marriage partners, you now know what works. A few Good mornings and Goodnights should get the object of your affection brimming with desire and thoughts of marriage.

Ronald’s story features those curious people commonly known as brokers. They hang around taxi stages, selling their time to drivers. For a small amount of money, they will enter a taxi to make it appear to be filling up faster than others. This makes customers gravitate towards it. He says:

I entered a taxi in Wandegeya that was full of brokers. When it was finally ready to leave the stage, the driver paid the guys and off we went. But alas! When we reached Mulago stage, three quarters of the passengers disembarked. The driver started to cry and lament. He had paid the brokers and hadn’t gotten a profit. I was too amused.

Kawuki:  I was crossing the road one time, walking on a zebra crossing when this impatient and impudent taxi driver almost ran me over. Seriously, he only braked when he was a few centimetres from my nose. I yelled (in Luganda), “Don’t you see this is a zebra crossing?” to which he loudly replied, “Oli zebra?” I was stunned. I had no words. I just walked away shaking my head and holding back laughter. The driver was laughing. I didn’t want him to see my amusement.

There are tons more so check back, will you?  Have a safe week .

P.s: Feel free to share your own traffic tale in the comment section!