Sunday August 31 2014

Mr President, can we return the old transport system?

Passengers board the Uganda Transport Company in the 1980s

Passengers board the Uganda Transport Company in the 1980s. City dwellers today face a transport menace occasioned by crowding on the streets and frequent strikes. courtesy pHOTO 

By Charles Rwomushana

Hullo Mr President, it is Charles Rwomushana on the line...
On Monday, most of the population that doesn’t have private transport stayed home... and or walked to work. I have noted, Your Excellency, that traffic was heavy implying that usually many were unable to meet the high cost of fuel and had to park their cars and use taxis. The transport system, sir, is dominated by taxis, boda bodas and bicycles.

commuters stranded after they failed to get taxis

commuters stranded after they failed to get taxis to the city when the operators and drivers went on strike on Monday. PHOTO by Abubaker Lubowa

Your Excellency, this is how the yellow-legged NRM eagle ate up the public transport system. By the time you came from the Luweero bush, Uganda had the Peoples’ Transport Company (PTC) based in Jinja and the Uganda Transport Company (UTC). On becoming President you found these companies serving the entire Uganda. There were other private bus companies like GASO that served Masaka.

The taxi system was very efficient. I remember on Kampala-Masaka road were the Peugeot 505s for fast moving businessmen. Fresh fish would be supplied to Kampala from Rwenshama on Lake Edward using fast moving pickups nicknamed Zivunda.

We had a robust railway system...and ships on Lake Victoria...
We had the UCCTU...involved in huge haulage of cargo... And yes, Transocean! They had modern storage facilities like the one where URA is currently situated... and somewhere in Kawempe.

The NRM yellow-legged eagle including but not limited to some of your close and longserving ministers I cannot name now joined and dominated the taxi system...

Sir, I’m advised that their main competitor was the public bus transport system... They thus killed the bus system and by the time Ugandans got out of sleep - otulo - ushered in by your government, the UTC and PTC bus companies had been chewed, including their bones and skin. The UTC loading and offloading terminal is now Mukwano’s mall.

Your colleagues then shifted to large cargo haulage from the coast into the Great Lakes hinterland and left the taxis to the messy Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (Utoda).

Sir, Utoda became another corruption tool and a political one too. Not until some elements of Utoda joined the Kabaka’s Mengo movement did that the yellow-legged eagle let go!

Apparently sir, Moses Byaruhanga – with whom you are very familiar allegedly using money from you – bought many boda boda motorcycles. Since then, the hitherto limping boda boda system became phenomenon. This brought a Abdallah Kitata who has just paralysed the city on the stage. But I will come to the politics of Kitata later!

Sir note, that the main competitor to your group shifted to the Uganda Railways Corporation... and its ships on Lake Victoria. This too was chewed “boilo” (raw)... and its rails are apparently used to manufacture nails and barbed wire. It now belongs to some company and if you may not be aware, one of your top “businessmen” owns 30 per cent of it!

Sir I suppose you know the one who now owns the Pakwach line that will be transporting oil.
Sir, our ships piloted by boda boda riders collided and sunk Lake Victoria.

Uganda Airline is no more…
Sir, I have run out of air time...
Let me load and call later...
Or I beep and you call back...
Thanks
Sir, I’m back...
Sir with heavy trucks, the NRM yellow-legged eagle was sure our roads that were initially relieved by the railway system would wear out and they entered into road construction....

Sir you have heard Works Minister Abraham Byandala cry out the mafia....mafia...mafia! Note, Your Excellency, that after destroying our railway and other public transport system... the bulk of heavy trucks are owned by Kenyans....

Sir, Milton Obote’s UPC and the Idi Amin government left a huge facility for fuel reserves. When government was considering refurbishing it, the NRM yellow-legged eagle swallowed it too...

The Uganda Airlines plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before its grounding.

The Uganda Airlines plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before its grounding.

Sir, at the country’s only international airport, the main business – handling services – also went the same way; the yellow-legged eagle chewed it like chewing gum.

Sir you may have heard of ENHANCE...hulllo...hullo..yes sir...that’s it...
And the airport title is in someone’s briefcase as if the airport land belonged to his father...

Sir, back to Kitata, he is part of the group that usually helps whenever Dr Kizza Besigye disturbs the city with walk-to-work. Kitata hitherto headed the boda boda machine. Now he heads all the transport system in Uganda.

Kitata has been set up by one section of the mafia who is battling the other section of the mafia that apparently collects fees from taxi operators... for KCCA...

I was with Kitata on Radio Simba and for sure he doesn’t know why they have organised the industrial strike. They simply want to share in the swag of KCCA.

I have submitted on NBS television’s Morning Breeze programme that the corrupt yellow-legged eagle is so sophisticated that a 10 million dollar offer for a neckless made of Your Excellency’s teeth, they would beat Brig Muhoozi security and you wake up toothless...
Hullo....Hullo...network...

Yes, sir...
Note that the yellow-legged eagle and its counterpart, the white-chalked Karoli (Marabou Stork) even when they swallow metals; whatever they swallow, they defecate white chalk and on their legs purposely to kill evidence..

That’s why the tractors from China you commissioned are all fake and the whole Mukono-Katosi road was digested and now lies in the stomach of some of your close confidants.

Sir, the yellow-legged eagle merely defecates yellow for it only eats the yellow york part of the eggs...but it’s not NRM.

Sir I seek for guidance on the plan of measures to curtail this ESA – Enemy Subversive Activity. Sir I propose operative combination where ESA will be curtailed without leaving a trace...
Over and out...

BODA BODA CITY

There is no way to accurately count the number of boda boda riders in Kampala and quoted estimates from authorities range between 50,000 and 800,000. Mr Richard Kibikwamu, the general secretary of the Kampala Central Division, Boda Boda 2010 Association, said last year that there were approximately 200,000 boda riders and 5,000 stages in Kampala.

With the unemployment rate in Kampala hovering around 11 per cent, according to the Ugandan Bureau of Statistics, and youth unemployment even higher, hundreds of riders enter the boda boda business every day.

KCCA’s Attempts to improve city transport


Since inception, KCCA has come up with numerous plans and projects to counter Kampala’s ever worsening traffic jams. Currently, it is widening 25kilimetres of Jinja Highway into a six-lane highway that connects Nakawa Town to Kampala Central business District.

Recently, KCCA also made a presentation at a National Resistance Movement retreat at Kyankwanzi, indicating that it would undertake a multi-billion master plan to transform the transport network in the city.

The plan encompassed the construction of flyovers at Kitgum House, Mukwano and Clock Tower junctions in the next five years at a cost of US$150million (Shs373billion) The plan also included cable cars for Kampala which have since been opposed by KCCA councillors.

Non-motorised transport / Bicycles
In December 2012, the Works ministry approved a non-motorised transport policy. It was aimed at having walkways and bicycles to reduce pedestrian deaths.

Supported by World Bank, KCCA recommended a non-motorised transport system for Rubaga Road junction to Mwanga II Road through Mackay Road – along the New Taxi Park to Luwum Street. The area is expected to be a no-go zone for vehicles and motorcycles once the plan materialises.

Bus Rapid Transit Transport system


In 2010, World Bank supported KCCA to have consultancy of introducing Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) for Kampala. Feasibility studies supported appraising of the existing public transport system characterized by Matatu (omnibuses) in a bus transport system.

Pioneer Easy Bus Company, which began cheaper public transportation services in Kampala and its neighbouring districts in 2010, is an example of a pilot BRT introduced by KCCA.

However, due to lack of policy frame work and infrastructure, the bus company parked after a few months when it was saddled with debts of billions of shillings in unpaid taxes to Uganda Revenue Authority. The Company buses have been parked for more than a year.

Railway Transport System


Joint plans by Kampala and Rift Valley Railways (RVR) are underway to re-introduce commuter trains by December this year. The pan has seen the Authority carryout evictions of residents living along the railway line to prepare room for revamping railway transport for Kampala despite the court battles challenging the authorities actions.

According to KCCA, THE Namanve-Kampala link is expected to serve over 1000 commuters living in Mukono and neignbouring towns. The railway link will also serve Kampala to Kyengera, and Kampala-Port Bell.

In addition, KCCA has on several occasions announced to abolish motorcycles, popularly known as boda bodas in the city in a move to streamline public transport and congestion.

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