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How schools influenced reopening of Old Taxi Park

Taxis operate from the revamped Old Taxi Park in Kampala on January 9. PHOTO/STEPHEN OTAGE

What you need to know:

  • Government has opened a section of the park to taxi operators to use ahead of the reopening of schools.

Two weeks ago, more than six taxi operators associations agreed to bury the hatchet and approach government to reopen the Old Taxi Park ahead of the new school term starting today. 

The taxi operators asked government to allow them to operate from the park as negotiations with the businessmen who own plots in the park continue.      

The Federation of Uganda Taxi Operators (FOUTO) has 150,000 members, some of whom  approached plot owners while others went to Works Minister Gen Katumba Wamala.   

Mr Mustafa Mayambala, the vice chairperson of FOUTO, told this publication that Uganda Taxi and Drivers Association, Uganda Transport Development Agency, Kampala Operational Taxi and Stages Association, Inter Taxi Parks and Stages Association, Platform for Independent Taxi drivers Association, and Commercial Taxi Owners and Transport Development Association participated in the  negotiations.

“We approached Gen Katumba on Monday and discussed how to reopen the park since children are returning to school. He asked us to give him one week since he needed to consult with other ministries and agencies,” Mr Mayambala said.

He said they approached the Works and Transport minister because their taxis had been parking on streets and this confuses passengers. 

Mr Mayambala also said the Kampala Capital City Authority has been charging taxi operators park user fees for the vacant Old Taxi park.

Mr  Rashid Sekindi,  the chairperson of  FOUTO, revealed that during a Friday meeting with  the Kampala Minister, Ms Minsa Kabanda,  and other stakeholders a resolution was made to have a section of the park reopened.

Regarding the fate of the private developers who have been standing on the way of the reopening on the refurbished taxi park, Ms Dorothy Kisaaka, the  KCCA executive director KCCA, said they agreed to co-exist with the private developers on the “periphery.”

 “It’s a win-win situation, the whole carpet is for the use of taxis and the property owners will develop going upwards. We shall work together to ensure there is harmonious coexistence in the use of the Old Taxi Park,” she said.

Resolving dispute

Asked how they managed to reopen the taxi park following the unresolved dispute between KCCA and the private developers, Mr Hudu Hussein, the Kampala Resident City Commissioner, revealed that President Museveni asked the government team to find ways of ensuring the  taxi park is reopened before January 10.

“The President’s interest was that the taxi park opens before schools reopen. The general principal is that the renovated place is KCCA land, the people claiming ownership can start enjoying their rights when the third and fourth floors are constructed, but the target is that government buys off their interests,” he said.

While commissioning the park on Saturday Minister Kabanda assured the taxi operators that no one would displace them from the Old Taxi Park . 

She accused  Opposition leaders under the Late Ssebana Kizito of causing the confusion when they sold the plots in 2005.

“It is not President Museveni who sold the taxi park, blame Ssebana Kizito. President Museveni is fighting hard to return the taxi park back into your hands because we want jobs from this taxi park,” she said.

Minister Kabanda said today she will meet all bus and taxi park managers, managers of taxi stages and Ministry of Transport and Works officials to streamline transport operations within Kampala. 

Since the completion of refurbishment of the Old Taxi Park, there has been a stalemate over its reopening due to political and legal battles between private developers whom KCCA gave subleases to develop the facility with the promise that they would be given the plots after the refurbishment.

The developers include Abamwe Transporters, Kabale distributors Ltd, Transport services Ltd D.K.S Uganda Ltd, Key and Ham Investments Ltd, Aponye Uganda Ltd, Lukyamuzi Invetsments, City Oil, Shumuk Industries, the Giant Eagle Mobile Phones and Accessories.

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