HANDBOOK: Now that we have accepted boda bodas as part of the true Ugandan culture, it is high time we briefed each other on the works of bodas. On behalf of the “Uganda Boda boda Users Association (UBUA), we present the guidelines.
- Never admit ignorance to your boda guy
If you have no idea about the location of a place, the trick is to fake it until you make it. Act like you have been to that place millions of times. Go ahead and assure the boda guy that you are a true native of that place. Use that for your bargaining power. Sit confidently and hope that the boda guy knows directions to that place. Every tonne of ignorance implies an extra boda charge.
- Always assume that the first offer is inflated
When it comes to bargaining with a boda guy, always assume you are being cheated. Never accept the first price. In fact, never accept to go with the first boda boda. There is always something wrong with the first boda boda.
Wait until the third boda for you to make up your mind. Use the first and second boda for your market research. Those are your benchmarking options. If the first two boda bodas insist on a certain minimum, be certain, that is the best offer. Use that offer for the third boda boda.
- Never use a boda boda when smartly dressed
Boda bodas love panic buyers. Dudes in suits are always in a rush. Lawyers, those chaps rushing to their law firms pumped up with ‘lugezigezi’, that’s a client with potential to be over-charged. If you wear spectacles, take them off before flagging down a boda boda. Do not use English. Again, that is how you get over-charged. Keep it local. Start off with words such as; “gwe guy, oli clear?” If possible, talk about Bobi Wine Omubanda Wa Kabaka. Or claim to be an Arsenal fan. That’s how you will soften the heart of the boda boda guy.
- If you are a dude, never bargain on behalf of your girlfriend
Boda bodas love to embarrass dudes from SMAU. If your girlfriend is using a boda boda, stand very far from where she’s bargaining with the boda guy. Wait until they agree on the price before you show up with the farewell hug. Don’t risk being identified as the sponsor.
- Always be ready to hate on taxi drivers and other road users
As a boda boda user, you and your boda guy will always be right. If your boda guy scratches a Subaru, blame the Subaru driver. If it is a taxi, blame taxi drivers for lacking the discipline and intelligence to drive in Kampala.
Boda bodas are always right. They never take blame for anything. Boda bodas are the magistrates and judges in the public court. They know everything about everyone. They are a moving database.
- Boda bodas will never have change
Make sure that you always have the actual amount to be paid out to the boda boda guy. The trick of the trade is to never have change. If the boda guy is charging 4K and you give him a 5K note, rest assured he won’t have the 1K note. It’s hinged on the hope that the customer will simply count it as bonus for a good trip. If you don’t have change, you have no business using a boda boda.
- Boda bodas know every place around town
In theory, boda bodas have been to every place in Uganda. If you asked them for Biden’s house, they will immediately offer to drop you there. But in practice, that’s never the case. Most boda bodas are clueless about places in town. You could hire a boda boda to take you to Meghan’s palace, and they will spend hours riding around town before they confess their ignorance. “Boss mpozi where do we pass? You know today I have a headache so I have forgotten the place,” that will be the excuse.
Alternatively, they will ask you to add more money because the distance has suddenly increased. “Me I thought you’re stopping by the roadside. You will have to pay extra,” says the guy.
- Using boda bodas is extreme sport
Prepare to perform drifts, jumps, swerves, all kinds of road gimmicks. Boda bodas will give you the full thrill. Prepare to have your adrenaline shooting high. If you have never written a will, boda bodas will convince you to write one. God forbid you use a boda boda in these curfew times. They will show you all the tricks of avoiding traffic police.
Above all, as with that famous rolex cup and cloth, boda bodas too have their famous jackets. There’s only one rule to the jacket, it must not test any water whatsoever. Prepare to embrace the jacket. It’s often said Ugandans are loyal to a few things in life and boda boda guys are among that group. You can mess with everything in life but never mess with someone’s boda guy.
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