Transport fares shoot up as people flee to villages

Wednesday March 25 2020

Hundreds of people line up at Global Bus Park

Hundreds of people line up at Global Bus Park to travel to villages following the coronavirus scare. PHOTO BY DAVID LUBOWA 

By ANDREW BAGALA

Transport fares have been hiked as people evacuate the capital Kampala to rural areas, amid the tough passenger service vehicle regulations that require only two passengers per seat.

The transport fares for upcountry routes have increased by an average of Shs10,000.
In the city, transport fares in commuter taxis have increased after the number of passengers were reduced from 14 to nine.

Mr Rashid Ssekindi, the chairperson of Kampala Operational Taxi Stages Association, yesterday said in the morning around 29 per cent commuter taxi operators enforced the regulations, but by midday everyone had complied.

“The taxi operators understood the dilemma we are in. We told them that if they don’t comply, there are high chances that the entire business will be shut down by the President to stop the spread of the virus,” Mr Ssekindi said yesterday.
On Monday, Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola ordered the Traffic and Road Safety directorate to enforce the new regulations.

On Sunday, President Museveni said public transport was bothering him so much on how he will keep it operating without spreading coronavirus. Mr Museveni urged people to avoid using public vehicles and if they are to use them in an emergency, they should ensure their hands are washed before and after boarding.

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“If you don’t have personal vehicle, it is better you don’t use public means,” he said.
Uganda largely relies on public transport that is in hands of private individuals. Many of the public service vans do not keep standard hygiene.

Mr Ssekindi said the city fares increased by around Shs500-Shs1,000. “Our passengers should bear with us after increasing the fares because we may not be able to run business if we maintained the old fares. We also ask the owners of the taxis to be considerate when they don’t get the amount of money our drivers are supposed to deliver daily,” he said.

Mr Robert Mutebi, the Secretary General of United Bus Owners Association, said they were supposed to carry 59 passengers instead of 69, but they failed to implement it because of economic challenges.

“... we had to increase fares because we are nearly driving buses back to Kampala empty,” Mr Mutebi said.
He said they are also ensuring all passengers comply with sanitary standards.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said they have allowed operators of public service vehicles to do self-regulation.
“We shall only come in if they have failed to implement the regulations,” he said.

abagala@ug.nationmedia.com

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