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Taxi operators decry low passenger numbers

Taxis in the Old park

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Taxi operators plying different routes within Kampala city are living in uncertainty about the future of their business, due to the gradual decline in the number of people using taxis.

The taxi operators say the number of people using taxis dropped since the government lifted the ban on public transport that was imposed as one of the COVID-19 containment measures.

According to the operators, this explains their failure to increase transport fares despite the hiked fuel prices. About a month ago, public transporters announced new transport fares to help them cope with the high fuel costs.

Baston Kiyagga, a taxi guide at Makerere stage, says that they hardly make more than 2 trips, which has affected their earnings. Previously, they would record at least 10 trips from this stage.

Kiyagga says that they decided to merge three stages just to mobilize the numbers because filling one vehicle was taking longer than usual.

Hamis Luyimbazi, a driver at Buziga stage, says that they would have wished to increase the fares because of the escalating fuel prices but they have held back because of the low passengers. He explains that the competition for the few passengers has complicated the situation making the transport industry hectic.

On average, a 14-seater taxi now takes over 1 hour to fill up at most of the stages visited by URN in the city center. Most of the operators spend their time sleeping or chatting away due to the limited number of travelers.

Badru Lubega, the chairperson Mukono stage, says that due to the increase in fuel prices, they were forced to increase the fares by Shillings 500, which he believes has kept away travelers.

According to Lubega, travelers now opt for vehicles loading on the streets, which charge less. He says as a result, the vehicles on the stage have reduced from 70 to 40 vehicles due to the low number of travelers.

Saad Ssali has been working at Mpererwe stage since 1990. He says that he has never experienced such passenger numbers, adding that their trips have reduced by half.

Some of the passengers interviewed by URN revealed that they resorted to alternative means of transport since the COVID-19 pandemic affected their incomes.

Tasha Nalule told URN that these are tough times that require stringent financial discipline to survive, adding that she looks for every possible way to save especially on transport.

Hussein Ndibubi, says that although the fuel prices are very high, taxi operators should have mercy on them because they are equally affected by the high inflation in the country yet money doesn’t easily come by nowadays.



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