Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Bus operators in Kampala on Thursday did not hike the charges they have proposed for passengers traveling to different destinations across the country.
The operators through their umbrella body, the Uganda Bus Owners Association – UBOA announced a raise in the transport fares on Wednesday, citing high fuel prices and Covid-19 rules restricting them to carry passengers at half capacity.
Solomon Nsimire, the Association’s Acting Chairman issued a circular to passengers confirming that the operators reviewed the bus fares’ for their fleets that ply Northern, Eastern and Western routes effective 2nd December 2021.
Caroline Apalat, a booking Clerk for Gogolon Transporters Ltd that plies the Kampala-Moroto route via Mbale, Kumi and Soroti in Eastern Uganda says several passengers who booked cancelled their Thursday trip forcing them to charge the initial rates.
Apalat explains that before the hike, a passenger would pay from Kampala to Soroti 40,000 shillings; Kampala-Kumi 35,000; Kampala – Mbale 25,000 and Kampala – Moroto 60,000 Shillings considered normal fares, but the charges have increased by 15,000.
Mansur Taban, an official with El-Shadai Bus Company that plies Kampala-Gulu and Lira on the Northern route says the passengers’ responses towards the new fares have been negative with disregard to the social distancing rules and fuel prices that has affected their services.
Makome Bus Company, a Kitgum bound bus from Namayiba Bus Terminal failed to charge passengers the new rates. Brian Ocen, a passenger who had booked the bus said he naively paid 65,000 instead of 50,000 shillings which other passengers negotiated and paid.
Florence Ayenyo, 54, a businesswoman, cancelled her trip to Gulu, and only loaded her merchandise saying the charges were too high and detrimental to her business. Several other passengers were left stranded at Kisenyi, Arua Park and Namayiba bus terminals over the new charges.
While addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre on Thursday, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Works and Transport directed the bus companies to suspend the new charges.
Katumba asked the Bus owners to first write to his office, and explain the reasons why they have decided to increase the fares for public transport. He proposed a meeting with operators on Monday next week to agree on whether to increase the transport fares or not.