Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has directed taxi associations in the country to form one apex body for proper management and regulation.
According to State Minister for Kampala Benny Namugwanya, the president is concerned that the numerous splinter groups and associations of taxi drivers and operators are threatening the efficient management and development of the transport industry.
Namugwanya was speaking during a meeting on Friday in which the speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga was presented with a petition challenging the new transport regulations by Kampala Capital City Authority. According to the petitioners, the regulations were causing untold suffering and frustration to drivers who have failed to eke out a living ever since the ban on public transport was lifted.
David Mwanje, a driver who plies the Kampala-Iganga- Kamuli route and a supervisor in the Old Taxi Park cited the harassment by KCCA law enforcement officers against drivers who park and load along city roads due to limited space in the taxi parks. He also decried the new route charts saying that several drivers have been allocated long-distance routes much to their bewilderment.
According to Mwanje, several taxis have been impounded and a number of drivers thrown in jail for flouting the regulations. In the petition, Mwanje stated that his petition is intended to beseech the authorities to allow taxis to operate along specific city streets for two months until renovations in the Old Taxi Park are completed.
However, Namugwanya stated that the Health Ministry had advised against loading on city streets if public transport were to resume unhindered. She said that the ministry considers contact tracing would be made easier if all taxis load from the designated parks.
But the minister said that a lot of engagements are going to take place during this month to ensure that taxi operators are well organized and sensitized regarding the new regulations. She pointed out that the ministry is still open to reorganizing the route charts and parks.
However, Namugwanga added, that the Ministry of Works is going to work with the leaders of the various taxi associations to form an interim committee that will work with KCCA, the local government ministry and the ICT ministry to come up with regulations to govern the voting exercise for the new leaders under the apex body.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga advised that policies and regulations should be made with the impact on the wider population in mind. She says that while enforcing the law, those affected by the new regulations should be assisted to survive such that they do not sink into lawlessness.