Bicycle Mechanics Cash in on Suspension of Public Transport

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s directive that restricted use of private and public passenger vehicles has turned into a high-earning opportunity to bicycle mechanics in Masaka district who are now profiteering from the ban.

In his address recently President Museveni asked people to stop driving public and their private vehicles and desist from traveling, as a way of locking out the spread of Coronavirus (COVID -19) that is largely through human contacts.

Museveni urged Ugandans that where is it inevitable, they can use bicycles or walk as the alternative means of reaching their different destinations for various intentions.  Apparently, the ban which has affected very many Ugandans has now become a blessing in disguise to bicycle mechanics in Masaka who now have several customers.

In Masaka Municipality, not so many people can repair bicycles, hence presenting a grand opportunity to the few available mechanics to make substantial earnings.  

Frank Ssesaazi, is one of the few mechanics who wakes up early to get onto the closed streets of Masaka where he arranges his tools to begin the day’s work. Ssesaazi who also hires additional two colleagues says they are currently overwhelmed by the number of people that seek their services. 

According to him, besides the new bicycles that also need to be fixed before getting on the road, they are also receiving hundreds that are brought up for repairs after staying long without being used. 

Majority of the bicycles at his workplace are of cyclo-cross type (commonly known as Changer bicycles), whose operations according to Ssesaazi are not familiar with many people.

“It is the main reason why they are developing mechanical breakdowns, because people are not used to them,” he noted. 

Ssesaazi indicates on average each of the three mechanics repairs ten bicycles in a day at cost ranging between Shillings 60,000 to 100,000 per individual.   

He however says their frustration is stock out on spare parts that has hit the area yet all the stores were closed down in the lockdown. 

Joseph Kato, is another bicycle mechanic currently operating below a tree shade on Elgin road in Masaka municipality. He says unlike in the ordinary days, they are currently receiving so many clients some of who are even turned away due to lack of either spare parts or time. 

“Because we also work within the set timelines, we don’t what to be caught up in the curfew hours. So some of the people are turned away,” he explains.  

Tom Ssebuliba, is one of the many people that that paid exorbitantly to purchase and repair a second-hand bicycle. 

On top of the purchase price of Shillings 250,000, Ssebuliba had also to foot a bill of Shs 90,000 to repair the same bicycle to put in a good shape.   

He says it become inevitable for him to remain seated at home until the movement restrictions are lifted, hence braving for all the challenges associated with riding a bicycle to the construction site where he earns a living.

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Abitegeka Gerald

The News Editor ,Reporter at Kagadi Kibaale community Radio

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