Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Taxi drivers plying the Eastern routes of Uganda have revisited the taxi fares as they prepare to resume operations. Public transport resumes tomorrow, June 4, after a move by the government to ease lockdown restrictions after more than two months of inactivity.
Each vehicle will however be allowed to carry just a half of its capacity to ensure physical distancing. As a result, the taxi operators who ply the eastern route from Mbale to other districts have revised the transport fares upwards to cater for the loss occasioned by the reduction in the number of passengers.
They will charge 30,000 Shillings from Mbale to Kampala from the 20,000 Shillings that the journey cost before the lockdown. Passengers travelling from Mbale to Jinja will pay an extra 5000, from the usual 15,000 to 20,000 Shillings. The Journey from Mbale to Lira through Soroti will cost 35,000 from the usual 25,000 while Mbale to Soroti will cost 20,000 from the usual 10,000 Shillings.
The fair from Mbale to Kumi has been hiked to 10,000, Kapchorwa 15,000 Sironko and Muyembe is 6,000 and 8000 respectively, those going to Budaka and Tirinyi will be charged 5000 and 7000 respectively and those heading to Busolwe in Butaleja district and Pallisa will be charged 10,000 on each route among others.
The announcement was made by the chairperson of the taxi drivers, conductors and owners association Moses Wabuyo. He was speaking during a consultative meeting on streamlining transport in Mbale. The meeting held at Mbale taxi park this morning was attended by taxi drivers, municipal officials, teams from the police traffic department and health officers.
Siraji Masagazi, the spokesperson of the taxi drivers, conductors and owners association appealed to the drivers to abide by the presidential guidelines on preventing the spread of COVID-19 and added that flouting the guidelines will prompt the President to lock again.
Mbale Municipality Health Officer Isaac Wepondi said that the transporters are expected to provide temperature guns to measure the body temperature of all travelers before they are allowed on board and ensure that whoever boards the vehicle has a face mask. They are equally expected to have hand sanitisers, to sanitise all people before boarding.
Mbale District Police Commander Fred Ahimbisibwe cautioned drivers about a night-time curfew which starts at 7 pm and ends at 6;30 am. He said that the police have deployed on all the highways to ensure the drivers don’t violate the guidelines.
Elgon region traffic police officer Godfrey Mwesigwa cautioned the drivers against crossing to the border districts where the movement of vehicles is still restricted. The borders have in recent weeks reported an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
The taxi drivers have promised to abide by the guidelines but decried the curfew hours which they said the President should revise.