Breeds of Transport
Transport in Kampala is as abundant as the sunshine. It seems to have a language all of its own, and clones overnight.
On first sight of the taxi park, I thought it a labrynth, without any solution; the ultimate Sudoko, the very cryptic crossword. Surveying it from above, it looked like one mass of discordant white, and fear was holding me back from jumping in. But once I did, I realised there was actually a sophisticated order, and help came to direct me- much help. A charming woman selling hard boiled sweets silently accompanied me to the taxi rank and made sure I was on the right track. Others made similar offers. Had they not, another man, wearing white gloves and an official looking jacket, would have pointed out the right way.
‘Taxis’ by the way are shared buses, ‘specials’ are taxis. There are metered ones too, of the yellow New York variant, and others with which haggling is all part of the deal.
‘Boda Bodas’- my favourite breed- are either push-bikes, or scooters which carry pillion passengers (at your own risk). There are buses of various shapes, sizes and states of disrepair. ‘Delux’ can mean anything from a box of rust with wheels, to a fancy passenger coach, with seats which belong to first class in an airplane. And somehow, somehow, they all manage to get around- just about.
The other day on a Boda it was a ‘take your life in your hands’ moment, as we negotiated the early morning traffic- across roundabouts, along footpaths, over curbs, around the potholes, weaving though the taxis, and the specials, and the cycles, and the mass of pedestrians, and perhaps a chicken or two. I gripped on tight, hair on the back of my neck strictly upright. Who needs white water rafting when you have rush hour in Kampala!