• Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

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Taxi and Boda boda Operators threaten to demonstrate over government’s new Policies

Following a proposal issued by the minister in charge of Kampala Betty Amongi, aimed at regulating taxi and boda boda operations in the city, transport players among other stakeholders have vowed to take on the streets and stage what they termed as a big demonstration if government does not halt such plans. During a press conference held in Kajjansi over the weekend, taxi and boda boda operators expressed fear of having their business jeopardised in preference to buses in the city.

Last week, minister Amongi proposed that in the post Covid-19, taxis and boda bodas should be locked out of the city to allow authorities streamline public transport in Kampala. She noted that Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) wants boda bodas and taxis barred from resuming operations in the city for another 28 and 48 days respectively, when the national lock-down is lifted.

In retaliation, taxi operators under their umbrella body Kampala Operational Taxi-stages Association (KOTSA), termed the minister’s suggestion, a provocation to the public transport sector. “During all this lock-down, we have kept our cool even when they refused to supply us with food, but we shall have been pushed beyond limit, when these proposals are effected,” stated Rashid Sekindi the KOTSA Chairperson.

Ursher Wilson Owere (left) the Chairman general of National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) with Stephen Abima the general secretary of Amalgamated Transport and General Workers’ Union (ATGWU) together with taxi and boda boda leaders while addressing the media

Meanwhile, John Semuju the chairperson of boda bodas union in Kampala said, there are over 200,000 boda boda cyclists attached to over 900 stages in Kampala, none whom was involved in developing the said proposals issued by minister Amongi. “The same proposal directs that we register with accountable digital companies, making it prerequisite for all cyclists to possess smart-phones, which is not fair because not everyone can afford a smart-phone,” stated Semuju.

Among other proposal by minister Amongi is, to gazette a zone in the central business district of Kampala, dedicated to buses only, and being a no go zone for boda bodas and taxis. “We are about to start the renovation of the old taxi park where a modern bus terminal will be constructed,” noted minister Amongi last week.

She said if the proposals are approved by Cabinet, taxis will be locked out for another 42 days, when the lockdown is lifted, to kick-start a process that will only allow public service vehicles that have been registered with the Transport Licensing Board, have paid all KCCA fees and other government dues and meet all requirements and specifications to operate in the city under strict enforcement.

“We shall issue a statutory instrument that shall streamline and regulate operations of commercial motorcycles in the city, approve bodaboda stages and also gazette them as such. We shall also introduce the operation of a bodaboda-free zone in the central business district and support the establishment and training of more accountable associations in the industry, such as Taxify, SafeBoda, and Uber,” Amongi said.

Stephen Abima the general secretary for Amalgamated Transport and General Workers’ Union (ATGWU) appealed to government that this is not the right time to make such “unnecessary” proposals when not only the whole country, but also the world is fighting war against Covid19. “The workers in transport industry do not object to reforms in the transport industry, but need to be involved in dialogue and consultative meetings,” Abima appealed.

Usher Wilson Owere the chairman general of National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) vowed to present the matter to the speaker of parliament as well as utilising all legal provisions possible, to force minister Amongi drop the proposals until consultation and due diligence has been conducted.

Earlier, the Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago opposed the minister’s proposal, saying it had been brought without consulting different tiers of leadership in the city. Lukwago is also quoted to have said, that according to the KCCA Act, the Lord Mayor is supposed to initiate strategies and programmes for development of the city. He noted that on March 27, the minister in charge of Kampala, called off all meetings hence leaders cannot sit to exercise their mandate.

On Tuesday, Amongi, together with finance minister Matia  Kasaija, presented a $12m (sh40b) loan request to the Parliament’s committee on the national economy, which is aimed at operationalise a city bus project. The $12m loan is part of a bigger loan amounting to $275m (sh900b) for the Kampala City Roads Rehabilitation project.
Amongi explained that the project will involve rehabilitation of major roads in the city, procurement of equipment for road maintenance, signalisation of junctions, pedestrian walkways and introduce scheduled bus services.
She said the sh40b for the bus services is a small component of the sh900b project that is meant to have a dedicated bus lane plying a 15km corridor from the Constitutional Square-Jinja Road-Nakawa junction to Ntinda, then Bukoto to Kamwokya, Mulago to Wandegeya and back to the Constitutional Square.  “We have an ambitious plan to reorganise the city during this lock-down window,” added Amongi.
“We still expect a written input from KCCA. However, the law gives us the mandate to operate on behalf of the central government. Therefore, once Cabinet approves the proposal, we shall go ahead and the council will supervise the implementation,” Amongi explained.

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