Transport fares shoot up as taxis, buses return to roads

A conductor helps a passenger sanitise before entering a taxi in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO / STEPHEN OTAGE

What you need to know:

  • Wastage of resources. “We are currently operating at 50 per cent as directed by the President, but when the demand is high, we are also forced to slightly increase the fares so that we can also meet other expenses. We rarely increased transport fares during normal situations,” Justus Masembe, taxi driver

Transport fares across the country went up yesterday following the resumption of public transport after a 42-day lockdown.
In his address on Friday, President Museveni allowed public transport to resume, with vehicles operating at half capacity.
Mr Museveni also warned that any violation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) by the public transporters would lead to suspension.
Kampala Metropolitan area
By 6am yesterday, people in the Kampala Metropolitan area that includes Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso had started pouring on roads to board taxis, buses and boda bodas to their respective workplaces.
However, they were met with a sharp increase in the fares, leaving many stranded.
For instance, taxi fares from Wakiso Town to the city centre were increased to Shs5,000, up from Shs4,000 before the lockdown was imposed.
Those who opted for boda bodas from Wakiso to the city centre had to part with Shs20,000, up from Shs15,000.
Those from Nansana Town to the city centre parted with Shs4,000, up from Shs3,000. Before Covid-19, taxi operators used to charge between Shs1,500 and Shs2,000 from Nansana to the city centre.
Travellers on Kampala-Entebbe route by taxi parted with Shs7,000, up from Shs6,000, while those from Gayaza to the city centre parted with Shs6,000 up from Shs5,000 before the second lockdown. Previously, travellers paid only Shs2,500 from Gayaza to the city centre.
Taxi operators, who spoke to this newspaper, said they were overwhelmed by the big number of travellers.
“We are currently operating at 50 per cent as directed by the President, but when the demand is high, we are also forced to slightly increase the fares so that we can meet other expenses. We rarely increased transport fares during normal situations,” Mr Justus Masembe, a taxi driver, said.
Greater Masaka
However, in Greater Masaka area, the taxi operators decided not to raise the fares.
According to Mr Bashir Mawanda, the chairperson of Masaka Taxi And Coaster Drivers Association, travelling to Masaka from Kampala costs Shs20,000 as it was the case before the lockdown.
“We are aware of the people economic situation and we don’t want to take advantage to increase fares,” he said.
Western region
In Kabale District, bus operators increased the fare to Mbarara from Shs15,000 to Shs30,000, and that to Kampala from Shs30,000 to Shs60,000. From Kabale to Masaka by bus now costs Shs40,000, up from Shs20,000
The chairperson of Kabale Bus Park Operators Association, Mr Henry Tindyebwa, said they have hiked the fares in order to meet costs.
“The transport fares have been increased in order to meet fuel and other related costs but also due to the fact that we are operating at half capacity,” Mr Tindyebwa said.
Mr Justus Tukamushaba, the association secretary, said transport fares to the surrounding districts of Rubanda, Kisoro, Kanungu, Ntungamo and Rukungiri have doubled. “This is to enable us make profits and meet costs such as fuel and vehicle repair,” he said.
In Fort Portal City, Mr Ivan Mwesige of Kat Transporters said from Fort Portal to Mbarara, they now charge Shs40,000, up from Shs30,000.
“We are carrying few passengers because we want to respect SOPs but also there are many passengers who would to travel,” he said.
Mr Mwesige said from Fort Portal to Ibanda District, the fare has increased to Shs30,000, up from Shs20,000.
“Even when travelling from Fort Portal to Kamwenge District, you have to pay Shs20,000 from Shs10,000,” he said.
From Ntoroko to Bundibugyo, it is now Shs8,000, up from Shs6,000, while transport from Fort Portal to Bundibugyo is Shs15,000, from Shs10,000.
In Masindi District, Mr Nathan Kiiza, the supervisor of Link Bus services, said they have maintained the fare of Shs25,000 to Kampala. The transport fare from Fort Portal to Kasese has also been maintained at Shs15,000.
In Mbarara, Mr Adam Ssemugabi, the director of Kingo buses, said transport fares from Ishaka to Kampala have increased to Shs60,000, from Shs30,000.
Mr Joseph Asiimwe, a taxi driver on Mbarara –Ishaka-Kasese route, said they are charging Shs35,000, up from Shs25,000.
Eastern region
In Tororo, the transport fares have also shot up. From Malaba to Kampala, one has to pay Shs30,000, up from Shs25,000, and transport from Malaba to Mbale is Shs12,000, from Shs7,000.
Mr James Mugeni, a taxi driver, said they have increased the transport from Tororo to Kampala to Shs30,000, up from Shs25,000. In Mbale, Mr Bashir Mabanja, the publicity secretary of Mbale Taxi Drivers, Conductors and Owners Sacco, said they have maintained the fares as before the second lockdown.
“We have not made any changes in the transport because we know the situation people are going through,” he said
He said transport from Mbale to Kampala is Shs30,000 and Shs20,000 from Mbale  to Soroti  as well to Kapchorwa.
Northern region
In Lira, the public transport operators have maintained the fares.
The spokesperson for Lira Urban Transporters Association (LUTA), Mr Bernard Anyeko Matsanga, said they met all managers and directors of all the bus companies and agreed to maintain the fares.
The transport fare from Lira to Kampala is Shs40,000; Lira  to Gulu is Shs25,000; Lira to Soroti is Shs25,000, Lira to Mbale is Shs30,000 while Lira to Kotido is Shs40,000.
In Pader, the transport fares have not also been increased, according to Mr George Mukili, the Pader MK Bus branch manager.
In Gulu, taxi and bus operators have also maintained transport fares. The fares from Gulu to Kampala, Kigumba, Bweyale, Karuma, ELegu and Lira have been maintained at Shs40,000, Shs30,000, Shs25,000, Shs20,000, Shs30,000 and Shs25,000, respectively.
Mr Dan Ogeri, a driver plying the Gulu-Nimule route, said there were few passengers on the road.
“In six hours, only two vehicles have set off to Elegu but in the past, more than 15 vehicles would go in six hours,” Mr Ogeri said.
Compiled by Amos Ngwomoya, Fred Wambede, Geoffrey Okot, Denis Omony, Bill Oketch, Patrick Ebong, Robert Owot, Robert Muhereza, Leonard Mbishinzimana, Naume Biira, George Muron,  Alex Ashaba, Ismail Bategeka,  Joseph Omollo & Fahad Malik Jjingo.