Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Taxi owners in Kampala have petitioned Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA over the high park user fees.
Over 20 taxi owners on Tuesday met the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago at City Hall. Last month, the owners petitioned Lukwago describing the fees as unfair.
In 2020, the Minister for Local Government Raphael Magyezi issued a statutory instrument requiring public transport vehicles to pay park user fees. According to the instrument, taxis operating within one district would pay 720,000 Shillings, those operating in more than a district or urban authority would pay 840,000 shillings while coasters and buses would pay a uniform fee of 2.4 million shillings annually.
In January, KCCA started implementing the instrument.
However, Celestin Kabalema who presented the petition on behalf of taxi owners says that the fees are high, despite the fact that they are paying additional taxes and fees. He cited the annual Passenger Service Vehicle- PSV tax of 300,000 shillings and third-party insurance of 280,000 shillings.
The taxis also pay between 3,000 to 3,500 shillings as parking fees to private taxi park owners, loading fees at different stages, and multiplex when they park on the streets.
The taxi owners also say there is a lack of clarity regarding who collects the fees and who the enforcers are. Although local tax revenues are collected by local governments and for the case of Kampala, KCCA, the 2020 statutory instrument puts Uganda Revenue Authority-URA as the collector.
However, it is KCCA officials who enforce the tax among taxi operators, and these have been accused of hiding behind the park user fees to solicit bribes from taxi owners.
Joanna Nalubwama, a taxi owner says the lack of clarity on who manages the tax has created a gap. She explains that KCCA officials impound vehicles that haven’t paid park user fees and demand a bribe of not less than 50,000 shillings to release the taxi.
Yunus Buyisebwomu, a taxi owner and driver who stays in Kyengera and operates between Nateete, Kibuye, and town says that when he enters the Gwanda park in town to load passengers, he has to pay 3,500 shillings and then at least 1,000 shillings at every stage he stops to pick a customer.
This is on top of fueling his car with at least 15,000 Shillings from Kyengera to town, a distance from which he makes a gross income of 40,000 shillings.
Lukwago says the park user fees being implemented in Kampala are Illegal since the instrument issued by the Minister for Local Government applies only to local governments and not Kampala.
Lukwago says there are plans to introduce an ordinance to deal with the management of public transport in Kampala. He says that until the tax is enacted through the KCCA council, it cannot be implemented in Kampala because Council is the legislative body of the city.
The collection of fees from taxis in Kampala has been marred by irregularities for several years.
Initially, taxis paid 150,000 Shillings through the Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association-UTODA. But taxi operators complained that the tax was high.
In 2013, City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago embarked on a process of formulating the Kampala Capital City (Taxi Management) Ordinance of 2013.
However, before the process could be concluded, the then executive director of KCCA Jennifer Musisi through a joint Committee of Revenue Collection and Internal Audit resolved to reduce the tax from 150,000 to 120,000 Shillings.
Within one month, KCCA collected over one billion shillings, far higher than the 300 million shillings which was being remitted by UTODA.
The taxi operators later petitioned the President saying there were multiple fees and taxes levied on their vehicles. Collection of the fees was halted in 2017.