As public transport resumed in various parts of the country on Thursday, many taxi operators were anxiously yearning to resume usual business, having stayed home for nearly two months.
Travellers too were excited as it was a relief from being confined home due to lack of transport following restrictions on public means to help combat the spread of Covid-19.
By 7am, many travellers had jammed various taxi stages in Pallisa Town but to their dismay, there were no taxis. Mr Moses Okurut, a passenger, said many of the taxi operators had not met the standard operating procedures or guidelines to conduct business.
Ms Rose Among, who had planed to travel to Kampala, claimed she cancelled her journey after realising the few available taxis were violating the social distancing guideline.
“These taxis are supposed to carry half capacity as well as observe social distancing and sanitise passengers but they were observing none of these. This could escalate the spread of the virus. I have postponed my journey to Kampala until taxi drivers comply,” Ms Among said.
She, however, urged taxi operators in the area to adhere to the standard operating procedures for the safety of the public.
“I think there is a need to enforce and bring taxi operators to order. They have been crying out to the President to lift the public transport ban, but they are the same people defying his directives. It is totally wrong and unacceptable to put our lives at risk,” she added.
Mr Buya Kampamu, one of the drivers in Pallisa, acknowledged that most taxi operators have not met the set safety measures.
“We need to streamline our business because the situation wasn’t so good during the nationwide lockdown. We love our job and some of these guidelines will be addressed with immediate effect,” Mr Kampamu said.
Mr Mutwalib Kadiesi, the chairperson of taxi operators Pallisa, said they are in the process of fulfilling the travel guidelines as demanded by government.
“It’s true, some of the taxis may wish to satrt operating but haven’t complied with the laid down directives by the President,” Mr Kadiesi said.
When these reporters traversed some streets in Pallisa town, a few taxis were seen plying the Mbale route carrying more than 10 passengers instead of the required seven.
Taxi and bus operators are supposed to carry half capacity while ensuring use of sanitisers and wearing of masks.