Ugandan boda boda riders are now fuelling from Tanzanian gas stations where the prices are lower compared to those in Uganda.
The riders who operate in areas around Mutukula town council in Kyotera district say they are able to save Shs 570 per every litre if they fuel from Tanzania.
Yafesi Nninze, the chairperson of Mutukula Border Boda Boda Riders Association says Ugandan fuel stations in Mutukula town sell a litre of petrol at Shs 3,700 an equivalent of $1.01, the same quantity of fuel goes for Tshs 1,981 ($0.855), translating to Shs 3,131.
Nninze says that a difference of Shs 570 per litre is reasonable savings to a boda boda rider and is enough to attract them to cross the borders. He explains that the majority of them are replenishing their motorcycle fuel tanks from Tanzania, from which they make reasonable earnings up from what they could make if they fueled from Uganda.
“Like Bobi Wine told us to be alert and adaptative to the prevailing hard situations, we have found a solution to Uganda’s high fuel prices. I have my passport and yellow fever certificate which I use to cross the border. As long as you have Tanzanian currency, there is no issue, you can fuel from any station in Tanzania,” said Nninze.
Johnbosco Ssemundu, another boda boda operator at Mutukula indicates that even other noncommercial hire motorcycle riders from the neighbouring trading centres located in a radius of 10 kilometres prefer fueling from Tanzania over the apparent difference in prices.
He adds that besides what they describe as affordable fuel prices, they are also attracted by the favourable working environment in Tanzania, where they are allowed to freely operate throughout the night unlike on the Ugandan side where security authorities are enforcing Covid-19 curfew restrictions.
Boda boda riders in Uganda are restricted to stop work at 6 pm. Ssemundu says in the evening, they just cross over to Tanzania where there is no curfew and work throughout the night.
A standard Bajaj bike full tank is 9 litres, but it can take in 10 litres, enabling the rider who fuels from Tanzania to save Shs 5,700 per fill. This is a reversal of economic opportunities as some Kenyan boda boda riders also prefer to fuel from Uganda due to cheaper prices.
Peter Kazungu an attendant at the Mount Meru fuel station at Mutukula says the costs of operations in Tanzania are also lower compared to Uganda, hence the difference in fuel prices. Kazungu says the boda boda riders could be engaged in smuggling goods between the two countries, arguing that the difference in fuel prices is just used as a cover-up.