Leveraging Disability as Competitive Advantage: The Wheelchair Cargo Movers of Uganda

By | February 2, 2018

Only in Busia do wheelchair owners from all over Uganda congregate as it is to their economic advantage to do so. Documented, and observed were the handicapped professionals who crossed the border numerous times a day ferrying goods.

In the past 25 years, the Busia tricyclists have created a strong community with initiative and resourcefulness in exploiting economic and political opportunities. Dialogue and negotiations have allowed them to conduct business without having to pay customs duties under the watchful eye of the authorities.

They point out with satisfaction that there are no disabled people begging on the streets of Busia, not even on Fridays when Muslims give out alms to the poor. On the other hand, each new officer must be sensitized.

These children from destitute families earn shillings helping with moving the freight. Neither participant is dependent on handouts.


Photographs: Michael Kimani, for Emerging Futures Lab, in Busia, Uganda, December 2015.

One thought on “Leveraging Disability as Competitive Advantage: The Wheelchair Cargo Movers of Uganda

  1. Wolfgang Zeller

    Very interested to read this and looking forward to further exchanges with author Niti Bhan.

    The African Governance and Space ( AFRIGOS) project at University of Edinburgh is researching cross-border transport in Africa on 4 case study routes, one of which includes Busia border post.

    Also, several members of the African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE) have conducted research on informal cross-border trade incl. wheelchair transporters in various border towns across the continent.
    See for example Dr. Clara Devlieger’s work from Kinshasa – Brazzavile border: https://www.gatescambridge.org/news/stirrings-welfare-system?utm_content=bufferc640c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    I can be contacted for further details: wolfgang.zeller@ed.ac.uk


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