Kabale, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Mechanics, Taxi and Bus operators in Kabale town are up in arms against the municipal authorities for forcefully relocating them to Mwanjari cemetery in Southern division. The mechanics were spread in the three divisions of Kabale Municipality while the Taxi and Bus operators have been operating from Kigongi along Kabale-Mbarara High Way in Central division.
Early last month, Kabale municipality authorities ordered the all motor vehicle and bicycle mechanics operating along Garage Street, Kigongi, and Kekubo in the central division, Rwakaraba and Lower Bugongi in Northern division and Taxi and Bus operators to relocate to Mwanjair Cemetery by May 1st, 2021. However, both the mechanic, taxi and bus operators ignored the directive.
On Wednesday, a team of law enforcement officers from Kabale municipality backed by anti-riot police officers stormed Garage and Kigongi Street in Central division and forcefully evicted the mechanics, taxi and bus operators to move to Mwanjari cemetery. Elly Maate, the Kigezi Region Police Spokesperson, says the police was called in to ensure the affected move as directed.
However, the implementation of the eviction has angered mechanics and transport operators, accusing municipality authorities of rushing to chase them yet Mwanjari cemetery has a lot of gaps. Amon Tumuramye and Richard Asiimwe both taxi drivers describe the relocation as unfair because the municipality has failed to work with the police to erect a post in Mwanjari cemetery to boost security.
Rogers Niwasasira, Hope Asiimwe and Frank Tukamwesiga Kamani are mechanics and have been operating along Garage Street. They fault the municipal authorities for failure to conduct enough sensitization about the relocation, which is likely to business.
John Mpagyi and Akimu Masikiyo also mechanics and welders from Garage Street fault the authorities for relocating them without installing electricity in Mwanjari cemetery.
Bless Akantorana, another Mechanic says that much as they are not opposed to development, the Mayor Emmanuel Sentaro Byamugisha has applied politics by suffocating their complaints on grounds that they supported his rival in the 2021 elections.
He says that the mayor has failed to explain that the fate of mechanics that paid Shillings 600,000 to acquire lockups in Mwanjari cemetery but were later bounced.
However, Kabale Mayor Emmanuel Sentaro Byamugisha insists that all mechanics and transport operators must relocate to Mwanjari cemetery to pave the way for the construction of storied shopping malls along Garage Street as well as end congestion in Kigongi along the highway.
He also explained that they have already installed a 3-phase power transformer in Mwanjari and asked the mechanics to consult UMEME about other issues they have.
Byamugisha refutes accusations that the relocation is politically driven.
In 2019, Kabale Municipality completed the redevelopment of Mwanjari cemetery in Southern Division along Kabale-Katuna road by erecting lockups, lavatories and clearing space to accommodate the garage, Bus, and taxi parks.
However, taxi and bus drivers decided to operate in front of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) yard in Kigongi along Kabale-Mbarara high way after the demolition of Bus and Taxi Park in Kigongi to pave way for the ongoing construction of a market under the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement program – MATIP III.
In November 2019, Kabale municipal authorities held a meeting with mechanics and asked them to voluntarily relocate to Mwanjari cemetery in vain. The mechanics argued that Mwanjari cemetery is not strategic for their customers. In February 2020, taxi and bus drivers staged a demonstration leading to running battles with police and UNRA officials for chasing them from their ward.