'Uber for motorbikes' - the smart way to get around in a bustling capital

Story highlights

  • Ugandan start-up SafeBoda are changing the face of boda-boda motorbike taxis
  • A click of their app brings you a bike complete with a safety trained driver and protective gear

(CNN)Everywhere you look there are two-wheeled drivers waiting ominously for passengers to hop on board. They're the backbone of public transport in Uganda and the fastest way to get around the capital city, Kampala. The boda boda motorbike taxi is a staple used by all sectors of society.

Traditionally, the usual way of catching a ride was to venture into any street corner packed with tens of boda bodas or simply waiting for one to pass by.
But now, a new local startup are bringing this classic mode of transport into the technological age by providing the ability to hail a boda boda at the click of a smartphone.
    "Bodas are the main thing getting people from A to B," says Alastair Sussock, co-founder of SafeBoda, "and we're trying to professionalize this transportation in the city."
    The motorbike taxis have their greatest popularity globally in Uganda, with over 80,000 riding the streets of Kampala, according to Sussex who wants to seize upon the country's burgeoning young population. Uganda has more than 24% of the population aged between 10 and 19 years old, according to UNICEF -- and Sussock wants them to get on their bikes.
    "Young people use smartphones in Kampala and it's one of the youngest countries in the world," he says.
    For now, the Uber-like startup operates mainly in the northern districts of Kampala, where a click on the SafeBoda app -- in addition to the traditional method of hailing them on the street -- will bring you a Safeboda bike, complete with a uniformed driver in a bright orange jacket, helmet and fully trained in road safety. He'll even have a helmet for you.

    Staying Safe

    Safety has long been a concern for those riding boda bodas as the bikes are a leading cause of death and head injury in Kampala. A study conducted at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, by researchers at Makerere University, identified approximately 40% of trauma cases at the hospital to be due to boda-boda accidents.
    Catching my ride

    I request a SafeBoda to take me to meet the team in the upmarket area of Kisementi, in Kampala's central district. As i stand waiting, at least 10 regular boda bodas pass by beeping to get my attention and business. A driver called Richard Lalunga then arrives who I spot clearly in the distance thanks to his bright orange jacket and orange helmets -- one on his head and one on his handlebars.

    Lalunga has been a boda driver for four years and joined SafeBoda four months ago to learn more about road safety. He explains how he now earns more than ever before due to a loyal customer base stemming