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Transporters count losses as city is deserted after bomb explosions

Public transport in Kampala saw low volumes of passengers on Wednesday. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Business in the transport sector in Kampala remained low for the day, in the aftermath of Tuesday explosions in the city.

Following the bomb explosions, businesses were hastily closed and people forced out of the city centre.

The transporters say that the panic due to the bomb explosions has affected the number of passengers accessing the city centre.

Our reporters in Kampala saw a few commuter taxis and private motor vehicles. Unlike other days when there is congestion of pedestrians, on Wednesday, the streets were uncharacteristically free of the usual early morning traffic congestion.

Bus and taxi operators said it was obvious that the blasts had scared many people away from the city.

Nelson Ssekandi, the manager Namayiba bus terminal said that they registered a big shortfall of passengers on Tuesday.

“On Tuesday, only 20 buses out of the more than 50 bus companies that operate in Namayiba bus terminal, went out of Kampala, yet Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays are our peak days,” said Ssekandi.

He however added that he expects that the industry will stabilize after more than one week as passengers gain confidence returning to Kampala.

“The incident has happened when even the passenger flow was low due to COVID-19, and this incident of the bomb blast worsened the situation” Ssekandi said.

Lambert Kairirizi, an official from Link Bus company said that by the time of the explosions, they hadn’t hit their targeted numbers for the day, and this affected their daily sales. He however declined to give numbers of average sales for Tuesday but confirmed that Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays usually present the highest turnover.

Kairirizi said they are trying their best to heighten security, including checking every passenger entering the bus.

A taxi operator, Noordeen Mukuye said that there was a low turn up of passengers. He worries that the sudden slowdown in business has coincided with a sharp increase in fuel prices as well as the low numbers still arising from the Covid-19 effects.

Mukuye also noted the increase in fuel prices which is costing them so much financially yet they can’t increase the transport fares and now the bomb blasts which is also taking its toll on their finances.

At the New park, all the entrances were not manned by security personnel. Inside the park, only a few tax stage managers had deployed hand-held metal detectors for checking passengers.

Rashid Ssekindi, chairman of Uganda Taxi Operators Federation admitted that there are loopholes in security at the park, but also the fact that many taxis are operating outside the parks since the Old Park is still closed.

He said that they have embarked on sensitization campaigns for the taxi operators and leaders in the parks on how to intensify vigilance, while he also appealed for police deployment in the parks.

Boda-boda riders said that as some businesses and government offices remain closed, their business have also been affected.

Jimmy Matovu, a boda boda cyclist is getting more worried about the future of the industry, as most security reports indicate that the suspected criminals use motorcycles for their operations.

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