People & Power

Mr President, can we return the old transport system?

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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

Posted  Sunday, August 31   2014 at  01:00

In Summary

Mess? In Kampala today, the transport system is characterised by many boda boda motorcycles and taxis.

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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....

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