Motorbike taxi operators in eastern Uganda are asking to be allowed to carry guns and knives to protect themselves from marauding robbers.
The taxis - known as boda boda - are a popular mode of transport and have been targeted recently by gangs of thieves. Robbers unseat the rider and passenger by tying ropes across roads. In the past month, 35 taxis have been taken. Police say most of the stolen motor cycles are sold off in neighbouring Kenya or dismantled for spare parts. Several operators have been seriously injured. The robbers take advantage of bad roads and poor lighting to attack taxis ferrying passengers. They also spray their victims with red pepper powder on their eyes to impair their vision and they attack them with iron bars, our reporter says.
"A gang of seven men waylaid me. They hit me on the back and the head several times with an iron bar before taking away my bike," victim Samuel Opio explained. Thomas Emorukut, who heads the taxi operators association, told the BBC News website that the police response is too slow.
"If nothing is done quickly, all our motor cycles will be taken away from us," Mr Emorukut said. But the police say it is impossible to grant licences to some 300 boda boda operators and they are instead making more efforts to stop the gangs - including going undercover by posing as taxi riders themselves.
This news item comes from the BBC web site and is available via the following link http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6912456.stm