How factional boda-boda association is causing chaos in Gulu City

(Last Updated On: 9 December 2023)

Gulu I A new factional boda-boda association has emerged in Gulu City and has started to cause chaos and discomfort among the year-long established associations.

Oboma Thomas Okot is the interim chairperson of the new association he calls Gulu City Council Boda-boda Motorcycle Association.

Okot was the chairperson of Gulu district boda-boda association for 7 years. He addressed journalists at Northern Uganda Media Club, where he said he was mobilizing and campaigning for the elections of legitimate leaders.

Currently, Gulu City West Boda-boda Association and Gulu City East Boda-boda Association are the two known and legitimate associations in the City. However, Okot claims both are illegal.

Speaking with tndNews’ Okot Lil Romeo, he (Okot) claims that the two current division boda-boda chairpersons have registered as a “company limited” not “association” – adding that “this drives individual interests with no benefits to members”.

Okot said since he was elected as chairperson of Gulu district boda-boda association until when Gulu city was created, no formal election of boda-boda leaders took place.

“We have been moving stage by stage for fact-finding from members of boda-boda. 80 per cent agree to the formal election of a chairperson,” he claims. However, he could not present the signatures of the agreeing members before the media as evidence of facts.

Needing to be a leader at all costs, Okot told a press conference that he has been supported by the coordinator of NRM party for northern, Odoch Bosco Olak. He also revealed that members of boda-boda appointed him (Odoch) to be their Gulu City patron to lead the association and move the election.

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“A lot of insecurity threats are caused by these current regime leaders, regular arrest and impounding of motorcycles of non-members of boda-boda along the roadside, charging them to pay money before release of the motorcycle in their custody.

The current leaders, he claims, are struggling to force leadership yet they do not have the existing structures of governing boda-boda. “This needs formal election to amend the structure and the constitution.”

Bosco Odoch Olak is in support of Oboma Thomas Okot’s idea of holding an election. He said during President Museveni’s visit to Acholi and the homecoming of Justice Minister Norbert Mao this year, over 300 boda-boda members approached him and many concerns were tabled before him on the current leadership.

Odoch said in his position as patron, he will only help to coordinate and involve security agencies and Gulu City Council authorities to manage the processes of a formal election. He also pledged to lobby for financial support for development.

The patron who seemingly is working for the “interest of one side” has ruled out any attempt to unite both associations. “I will not work with limited companies unless they are allowed to register as associations. I cannot support an individual’s interest.

“No insecurity will happen in Gulu City by any boda-boda members,” he told tndNews.

Oboma’s boda boda association certificate copy.

Stephen Ocen is the chairperson of Gulu City West Boda-boda Association. He said in the previous leadership under Gulu District Boda-boda Association, “conflict hiked among boda-bodas which led to insecurity with iron-bar hit men, thieves and robbers claiming many lives of people”.

Ocen says the new wave is again going to fuel insecurity in the City if not handled well by security agencies.

In June 2021 through the guideline from the City Council, as the Covid-19 pandemic was common, they (City East and West) agreed and organized elections of leaders thereafter they registered as Companies Limited by Guarantee not Companies Limited by Shares.

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“Boda-boda is more dangerous….I have over 4,000 registered members plus non-registered boda-bodas in my division. The security agencies should not take it lightly to resolve the matter.”

“We do not know Odoch Bosco Olak as patron, we only know the late Speaker of Uganda, Honorable Jacob Oulanyah as our former patron…up to date, and we do not have a patron. He (Odoch) is the one fueling conflict among boda-boda in Gulu City.

“As two divisions, we will be ready to face him and let the law of Uganda take its course on him because we have all the evidence to present to the Court if needed,” Ocen stated.

Moses Ojok is the Chairperson of Gulu City East Boda-boda Association. Ojok tells tndNews he has over 2,680 registered members. He has distanced himself from the ideas of the former chairperson of Gulu district boda-boda.

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“He is trying to block our way of getting shs20m that was pledged by the President to each district in Acholi Sub-region.

“For over 5 years he was not in the office as chairperson of the boda-boda association, we’re only trying to block them toward any government support. Odoch and Oboma are trying to behave like dogs at the funeral place where they want to eat and finish all the bones and food remains then disappear.”

Ojok stated that under his leadership, over 33 motorcycles were given by politicians and a lot of support from different leaders.

“The two-division associations are trying to bring trust from a lost trust in the previous leadership; we are to organize the Bodo-boda festival in December to trigger unity among current leadership and create awareness,” he added.

Legal certificate of Gulu City West Boda-boda association.

Michael Komakech, the Chairperson of Acholi Sub-region Boda-boda Association, in a phone interview, said Oboma Thomas Okot has no power to organize an election of boda-boda leaders. “Only the chairperson of the disciplinary committee according to their constitution can organize an election.”

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“His ideas are wrong to hold an election as Thomas Oboma because, in his 2 terms which have ended, he has been removed from office due to misuse of office and corruption issues. Also, he is not eligible to stand as a candidate; he will fuel conflict among boda-bodas.

He disclosed on December 15, 2023, that his office will hold a general meeting with all the leaders across the districts in Acholi to discuss and resolve the matters of Companies Limited by Guarantee and make formal elections.

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