Special thanks to Gerald Zikusooka for his help.


If you have already traveled to Uganda or Kenya, you probably know about the various ways to get around *. But if you want to know more about means of transportation in Uganda, watch this video where Gerald explains the difference between special hires, taxis and matatus, and also tells about the origin of the word boda-boda.

Extra note

The word matatu originally comes from Kenya. According to Wikipedia, ”it is a colloquialism * meaning ‘three’ in Swahili. Some maintain that three cents was the typical fare * in the 1960s. Another explanation claims the name derives from Peugeot 504 (model associated with the matatu), which could be fitted with three rows of bench seats.”

Boda-bodas (border-border) started being used in the 1960s and at the time, bicycles were used, not motorbikes. According to Wikipedia ”the name originated from a need to transport people across the “no-mans-land” between the border posts without the paperwork * involved with using motor vehicles crossing the international border. This started in the southern border crossing town of Busia (Kenya/Uganda), where there is over half a mile between the gates, and quickly spread to the northern border town of Malaba (Kenya).”

Boda-boda stop in a village
Boda-boda stop in a village
In Uganda and some other African countries, plate numbers are carved in rearview mirrors to protect them from theft.