As you stroll down the streets of Kampala, one’s eyes are greeted by a sight of many pedestrians making their way to the city centre.
These men and women, seen dripping with sweat, are in pursuit of a better life and depend on daily income to support their families.
They represent a big portion of Ugandans who formerly used public transport especially taxis and boda bodas at fairly affordable rates.
But the current exorbitant public transport costs have left many with no choice but to trek to their destinations.
As the saying goes, “desperate times call for desperate measures”, many of these were not used to walking but are slowly coping .
Transport costs across the country have doubled and in some cases tripled as taxi operators try to follow presidential directive on carrying half capacity. For example, one has to part with Shs5,000 from Kira to the city centre, a journey that initially cost about Shs2,000.
Whereas the government directive on public transport operations is in good faith, the cost on the passengers is biting hard. Many have not been working during the lockdown while some have even lost jobs.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of our usual life routines and any measures to keep businesses running smoothly are welcome.
It would be ideal if government mobilises the association of taxi drivers to get a feasible way to curb the high public transport rates.
To achieve this, government should offer indirect subsidies to these associations through discounted fuel coupons or direct remittances to the associations based on the average number of trips made a month. The former is easier to implement with the use of some technological applications that monitor fuel purchases per vehicle.
The latter requires a deep analysis on the best way to achieve value for money.
These interventions will help to reverse public transport costs to the usual rates or slightly lower but also generate tax revenue through increased fuel pump sales.
James Ssempijja & Jacob Opio