Boda boda riders in Aweil commit to safe driving practices at an UNPOL training
25 boda boda (motorcycle taxi) operators in Aweil town of Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State have committed themselves to abide by traffic laws to mitigate accidents. The cyclists participated in a one-day road safety training facilitated by United Nations Police (UNPOL) officers serving with UNMISS.
Boda bodas are a common mode of transport in South Sudan. However, rash driving by these motorcycle taxis often result in unnecessary injuries and deaths.
In Aweil, some 30 per cent of road accidents are believed to have been caused by these motorcyclists.
“I think most fatalities resulting from accidents are caused by young drivers who have recently joined this trade,” says James Dut Garang, a boda boda operator who is well-known for his experience in Aweil. “Young boys who don’t have experience riding motorcycles often drive at high speeds to pick up more fares. This is what leads to collisions and, at times, death of passengers and drivers alike,” he adds.
For 26-year-old Malou Malou, one of the youngest drivers in the town, operating a motorcycle taxi has enabled him to complete high school. “I started driving boda bodas five years ago. I was always a careful driver but many of my peers weren’t cogniscent of traffic rules or safe driving. For me, though, I was always careful and with the money I made, I was able to pay my school fees. Now I am planning to go to university.”
UNPOL officers urged riders to wear helmets, avoid overspeeding and follow traffic rules to avoid accidents.
“I am optimistic that they will implement what they have learnt in this training,” says Benjamin Mensah, Community Policing Officer, UNPOL. “We also advised them to form an association which will regulate the work of all boda boda drivers ensuring safe travel for passengers and drivers alike,” says Benjamin Mensah, the UNPOL Community Policing.
Boda bodas have become the fastest means of traveling around different towns and villages of Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal. It is cheap, motorcycles can navigate small and narrow roads easily and is a way to avoid traffic jams.