Govt returns Link Bus rides, renews car checks

Buses park at the Link Bus Terminal in Kisenyi, Kampala on May 11, 2022. PHOTO / ISAAC KASAMANI

What you need to know:

  • Government announced lifting of the suspension of Link Bus operations, following the May 4 accident in Fort Portal which claimed more than 20 lives.


Works and Transport ministry has announced resumption of periodic mandatory motor vehicle inspection effective July.

Mr Kharim Kibuuka, the principal vehicle inspector at the ministry, announced the development last Friday at the Uganda Media Centre in the presence of line minister, Gen Katumba Wamala.

He said they had addressed administrative constraints with Swiss company Societe Generale De Surveillance (SGS) and were considering bringing them back.

“We are planning to bring them (SGS) back on board. There were administrative constraints that had to be addressed. Parliament investigated how they were contracted and instead found other irregularities which had to be addressed,” he said.

Mr Kibuuka, however, declined to divulge more information, saying they were confidential.

In March 2015, government through the Ministry of Works and Transport entered into an agreement with SGS to inspect motor vehicles in Uganda - a road safety measure intended to ensure vehicle roadworthiness and reduce road carnage.

In 2017, Parliament tasked that Committee on Physical Infrastructure to investigate and inquire into mandatory vehicle inspection. 

The Attorney General presented a legal opinion, which concluded that there were no legally justifiable grounds in the minority report that would entitle the Ministry of Works to terminate the SGS contract without being in breach and that doing so would predispose government to payment of colossal damages.

In June 2019, government invited the SGS to re-negotiate the initial contract. Whilst there was no contractual obligation on SGS part to change the valid agreement, an addendum was signed to accommodate concerns raised by the Parliament of Uganda.

Minister lifts suspension

Meanwhile, the minister announced lifting of the suspension of Link Bus operations, following the May 4 accident in Fort Portal which claimed more than 20 lives.

While announcing the resumption of operations for Link Bus, Gen Wamala said despite all the road safety measures, including regulations, the country is not making any strides on reducing accidents, which claim 3,650 Ugandans annually.

He said the Link Bus accident forced them to ground its operations so that the bus company is given ample time to establish the causes of the rampant accidents and come up with a report to be tabled before Parliament.

He revealed that their investigations established poor driver judgment, rather than the road, motor vehicle and weather conditions as the cause of the accident as the bus was new, the driver was experienced and he knew the configuration of the road.

Mr Solomon Nsimire, the Chief Executive Officer of Link Bus, said following the accident, they were asked to submit full list of their drivers for verification, take all their buses for road worthiness tests as well as provide measures they will deploy to avert similar accidents in future.

He said they had established a driver disciplinary committee and stringent disciplinary measures to police the drivers, established hotlines for passengers to report errant drivers, and they would share the recommendations with other bus companies and operators of public passenger vehicles.