By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Taxi operators under the Kamuli Taxi Drivers Association have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, over unfair treatment by Kampala Capital City Authority regarding operations of public transport.
The operators are aggrieved that KCCA in a bid to adhere to social distancing guidelines, allocated them routes that are inconveniencing to passengers, ultimately knocking many out of business.
David Mwanje who supervises taxi drivers in the old taxi park, said his counterparts are finding it hard to operate from parks such as Kisenyi on a route whose passengers may not necessary go to Kisenyi.
“How do you expect a driver operating on Jinja road to go to Kisenyi Park yet most of his passengers stage around city square and the street?” asked Mwanje.
This he said has become the source of conflicts among taxi operators which leads them to defy the requirement to operate in designated taxi parks, which has led many into detention.
Petitioners implored Kadaga to task KCCA to release about 68 operators who have been arrested and their vehicles impounded over issues relating to route charts and parking.
Additionally petitioners decried the exorbitant operational fees being charged on them despite having been out of business for months following the lock down over the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Mutwahiri Waiswa Bogere, the chairperson of taxi conductors in old taxi park, an individual taxi operator pays monthly stage fees ranging between Shs800,000 and Shs3 million, daily loading fees ranging between Shs5000 and 20,000, in addition to entrance fees, hoarding fees and monthly contribution to welfare fund which he said has been mismanaged.
The State Minister for KCCA, Benny Namugwanya, explained that the temporary route charts provided by KCCA, result from the on-going renovation works in the old park and the mandatory requirement to observe social distancing in order to contain the coronavirus.
“When the Ministry of Health was advising government on re-opening of public transport, there are some conditions they gave us; one of them was social distancing within the park and within the vehicle and tracking of contacts which wouldn’t be possible if vehicles were parking on streets,” she said.
She said the fees being charged on taxi operators are illegal as the authority does not collect any revenue from taxis at the moment.
Kadaga asked KCCA to be lenient while dealing with the taxi operators. She observed that since some parks are not yet operational, government must shoulder the burden of the many taxi drivers who must survive in business.
“Article 40 of the Constitution enjoins us not to hinder but to facilitate people to practice their professions, these are small people trying to earn a living, as we enforce a law let us try to facilitate them,” said Kadaga.