Earning a living from fixing bicycles for 34 years

Written by: 
mutebi kalema

High rates of unemployment and famine in 1990s in the eastern part of Uganda forced Hussein shift from farming to fixing bicycles for a living at a young age. The 65 year old still operates bicycles and is now a famous bicycle engineer in Iganga town,

“When I got done with Arabic certificate at the age of 15 I had no hope of going for further studies so I had to find ways of surviving. During that time most people were jobless and cotton which was major cash crop by then had lost value”, says Hussein.

The fact that Hussein needed a better standard of living and ensure his relatives could live. This situation forced him to try growing of coffee. He practiced farming for some years but he could not earn enough from the activity.

“My father had a big family and few of us were working, I realized that I needed a supplement activity that would generate daily income. From this point I decided to join my elder brother who was a boda boda cyclist in iganga town”, says Hussein.

After two years of boda boda cycling, he had also gained skills on how to repair bicycles later shifted to repairing bicycles. He started repairing bicycles in Buseyi a sub county in iganga district. The first day at work Hussein earned shs 100000; this inspired him to work harder in order to increase his income. Babala Hussein is still fixing bicycles in iganga town.

Born in 1949, Babala Hussein is the sixth born of ten children. He belongs to the family of Hassan and Hanifah kagoya. They are typical farmers of Kagogo Busambila village, Nakyingo Sub County, iganga district.

While at school Hussein studied Arabic and he never went for O level neither A level. This is the point that provoked him to come up with the idea of fixing bicycles for a living.

On becoming a bicycle repairer, Hussein has registered a number of benefits. He earns roughly a monthly income of shs 500,000. He has been able to pay school fees for his children. He has acquired four plots of land where he is practicing livestock farming and agriculture. He is able to cater for the basic needs of his family and provide financial support two his two wives. He adds that his job has given him fame and is proud of it.

However, his job has come with challenges. He finds it had to pay licenses fee of shs 90000 for the ground of his operations. Fixing bicycles is a seasonal business so at time he is left almost with no money to cater for his family.

The fact that he has improved standard of living and his income as well, Hussein is working towards setting up more of his own workshops so that he trains people. He has been able to employ more people at his working station and is able to fairly pay them. Basing on his humble background he argues youths to take up the legal opportunities that come up their way. Hussein condemns the mentality of youths neglecting jobs. He therefore argues youths and all people to work  hard and always produce the best output for every task they take up.