Uganda: Taxis Carry Passengers At Full Capacity, Double Fares

23 November 2020

Taxi operators in Lango Sub-region have resumed carrying passengers at full capacity, which is against the presidential and Ministry of Health directives.

President Museveni reopened taxi operations in June under conditions that passengers wear masks, wash hands and carry at half-capacity as a measure to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

Despite resuming carriage at full capacity, the taxis have continued to charge passengers twice the fares.

For instance, the fare from Lira City to Kampala remains at Shs40, 000 and yet before it was at Shs20,000.

Mr Moses Otim, a businessman, said it was improper for public transporters to continue cheating the public.

"Something should be done to rescue passengers who are being robbed in broad daylight by public transporters," Mr Otim said.

Ms Scovia Acen, a resident of Dokolo Town and a passenger, said transporters saw the outbreak of Covid-19 as a business opportunity to make abnormal profits from them.

Mr Benard Anyeko Matsanga, the spokesperson of Lira Urban Transporters Sacco, a company managing Lira Bus/Taxi Park, said they are receiving numerous complaints from passengers about the high transport fares.

"I am still going to consult the Health minister to establish whether buses and other means of public transport are now allowed to carry passengers at full capacity and if so, then we shall find a way of forcing them to reduce the fares," Mr Matsanga said on Saturday.

He expressed fear that if nothing is done, public transporters would exorbitantly increase fares during the Christmas season.

The coordinator of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Lango Sub-region, Mr Francis Ogema Awany, justified the maintenance of increased transport fares on grounds that they suffered losses for the three months when they were in lockdown.

"Public transporters are free to fix any fare which they think can make them to recover from the losses they incurred when their vehicles were grounded by the lockdown," he said.

Mr Ogema said most public transport operators survive on bank loans and are under pressure.

"Those who are complaining about the transport fares should choose whether to board or not to board those vehicles and find their way to their destinations," he said.

Police say

Mr James Ekaju, the North Kyoga police spokesperson, warned public transporters that their vehicles would be impounded and subjected to heavy penalties if they fail to observe the standard operating measures.

"What I know is that the government has not yet allowed public transporters to operate at full capacity and those doing so, are risking their business," he said.

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