New bus company seeks to set pace in changing mass transport

Tondeka is seeking to upset the informal operations of the public transport system in Kampala, part of which has been the main cause of traffic jams and gridlocks. Photo | File 

What you need to know:

Tondeka is seeking to change the mobility sector in a way that will compel other industry players to rise up to standards or be rendered irrelevant. 

The Tondeka chairman Stephen Mwanje has said their agenda in the short and long term is to set the pace in the push for an organized mass transit-bus system in Kampala. 

Speaking in an interview in Kampala last week, Mr Mwanje told Monitor that they will be seeking to change the mobility sector in a way that will compel other industry players to rise up to standards or be rendered irrelevant. 

Tondeka joins a number of other mass transit-bus services, among them Pioneer Easy Bus, that have previously sought to change the manner in which the transport system in Kampala operates.  

The Kampala public transport is largely operated by privately owned 14-seater motor vehicles, which some experts have blamed for congestion and unending traffic jams. 

“We want to change the mobility services in a way that will compel other industry players to step up or risk being rendered useless,” Mr Mwanje said, noting that they will also seek to make transport affordable and automated. 

Tondeka will also seek to upset the informal operations of the public transport system, part of which has been the main cause of traffic jams and gridlocks in which the economy is estimated to lose an equivalent of Shs500m daily, according to Kampala Capital City Authority and at least 24,000 man-hours – the amount of work performed by the average worker in one hour. 

It is estimated that travellers lose between eight and 23 hours every month in traffic jams, with car travel speeds falling from an average of 28 kilometres per hour to between eight and 14 kilometres per hour due to traffic jams, according to research conducted by Uganda Management Institute. 

Mr Mwanje also noted that they will seek to create a system that offers affordable transport fares given that “research that we have looked at indicates that 60 per cent of wages earned by most employees in Kampala are spent just on transport”. 

“We are going to have fixed prices. For example, from either Nakawa or Ntinda to Kampala it will not be more than Shs1,000 at whatever time. And that money will be held in a credit card [an ATM-like card]. With such technology, we will be managing our cost, which in turn will be reflected in the affordability of our services,” he said.   

A report by Ministry of Works and KCCA indicates that although there has been some progress in transport infrastructure development, Uganda still faces challenges associated with uncoordinated, poorly planned and lack of an efficient transport system in the urban areas such the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area. 

These challenges impact service delivery, business development and increase the cost of doing business. 

Mr Jamil Malik, the Tondeka chief executive officer, said just after days of the launch of their operations, they have registered daily growth exceeding what had been projected. 

The bus company, despite use of technology to manage costs, Mr Malik noted, is expected to create about 5,000 jobs. 

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