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Public transport operators protest plans to regulate taxi, boda boda operations

FILE PHOTO: Old Taxi Park.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Public transport operators have protested the proposed guidelines for boda boda and taxi operations.

According to the proposals issued by the Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs Betty Amongi, all taxis in Kampala will register with Kampala Capital City Authority, pay fees to the Authority, undergo inspection every six months and also be subjected to a specific route chart that will be reviewed annually.

Amongi in a letter addressed to the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago also indicated that taxis would stay off the road for an extra 42 days as they reorganize the sector.

Amongi also says boda boda cyclists should operate under smart Boda associations like Safe Boda, Uber, and Bolt among others. These will also have specific areas to operate and not in every part of the town as it has been.

The government also wants to gazette boda boda stages and reduce their number which according to KCCA currently stands at 970.

However, some taxi operators say the government is using the lockdown to kick them out of Kampala.

Shafik Tera, a driver in Ddembe taxi park in Bwaise says while they do not oppose government programs, the timing is so bad. He says drivers are already struggling under the lockdown and wants the government to involve leaders of public transport operators.

The spokesperson of Kampala Operational Taxi Stages Association –KOTSA Moses Birungi says that government should consult them on how the public transport system should be organized rather than impose policies on them.

Suleiman Ssemanda, a boda boda cyclist in Kamwokya says they should not be compelled to operate under smart Boda associations because not all of them can afford smartphones.

He says that they should be allowed to set their fares.

Andrew Kitaka, the Acting Executive Director says the plan is to improve traffic flow in the city. He declined to give further details saying that Cabinet will discuss the matter next week.

Dr Amiin Kiggundu an urban planner at Makerere University says the plan by the government is valid but rushed. He says Kampala needs a transport system that involves transporting large numbers or passenger, for instance using buses.

Kiggundu however says that the government needs to involve stakeholders and not act hurriedly.

Kiggundu also says that the government needs to have a proper regulatory framework for public transport. He says under that, they should consolidate the regulator of public transport and this he suggests local councils.

Currently, the transport system is regulated under different agencies like the Ministry of Works and Transport, City or Local Councils, Transport Licencing Board and Police.

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