- According to Ms Immaculate Natukunda, the Secretary Uganda Transport Licensing Board this will partly help to stamp out criminal elements taking advantage of confusion in taxi business to rob passengers on different routes.
- She said the move is in line with a 2018 presidential directive to the Minister of Works and Transport to streamline the taxi industry.
The taxi business is set for a major overhaul as part of the changes meant to streamline the taxi business in the country, Daily Monitor has established.
Under the proposed new arrangement, government plans to introduce route charts where a taxi plying a given route will not simply switch to another without serious reasons.
According to Ms Immaculate Natukunda, the Secretary Uganda Transport Licensing Board this will partly help to stamp out criminal elements taking advantage of confusion in taxi business to rob passengers on different routes.
She said the move is in line with a 2018 presidential directive to the Minister of Works and Transport to streamline the taxi industry.
“Government has been engaging the different stakeholders and gathering views on how best to have the taxi transport sector streamlined. One of the salient issues is the many associations which have failed to streamline their activities including the cooperative unions which the President had promised to help,” Ms Natukunda said while meeting more than 300 taxi operators in Luweero District on Wednesday.
She said government, through the Ministry of Works and Transport, has rolled out a countrywide consultation and sensitisation exercise for the key stakeholders within the taxi business including the taxi drivers and district leaders where the taxi operators.
“The Luweero meeting is part of the countrywide meetings meant to get more views about the planned re-organization of the taxi business, having rivals associations claiming to fight for the rights of drivers and conductors will not be tolerated anymore,” Ms Natukunda told the taxi operators.
Ms Suzan Kataike, the public relations officer at the Ministry of Works confirmed the planned overhaul of the taxi business.
“We have started with the taxi business where the route charts will be introduced among many changes. It is also true that the many rival taxi associations are partly responsible for the confusion. The operators within the taxi industry will be given guidelines and helped to have better leadership to replace the rival associations. Criminals have often taken advantage of the existing confusion within the taxi sector to execute their evil acts unnoticed,” Mr Kataike said told the Daily Monitor.
A section of taxi drivers in Luweero have welcomed the idea of streamlining the taxi business, saying the existing rivalry within different taxi owners and drivers associations have not helped to develop the taxi industry.
“We now have criminals who rob passengers simply because we do not have strict guidelines and records about the vehicles operating in Luweero District as commuter taxis.” Mr Addul Kiryowa Keefa, a taxi driver from Zirobwe Sub county said.
Mr Keefa said in Luweero District alone they have more than 20 taxi drivers’ associations which were supposed to operate as Savings Credit and Cooperative Societies (SACCOs), but currently engage in unending rivalry and spot fights over route allocations.
“We need to sit down and elect leaders without compromising the safety of the passengers.” He added.
Luweero District Police Commander Mr Byaruhanga Muhorozi said the proposed introduction of the route charts is a welcome idea that could possibly help the police and its sister security organisations keep track on suspected criminal activity within the taxi business “Having defined routes for the taxis including the registration of drivers, will boost the police traffic work and help us apprehend all the criminal elements disguising as taxi operators,” he said.
For over two decades, Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (UTODA) held sway in the taxi business until 2011 when its monopoly was broken leading to formation of smaller taxi operator’s organisations in different parts of the country.
In Kampala alone, there are two rival groups including; Uganda Transport Development Agency (UTRADA) headed by Mr Mustapha Mayambala and Taxi Parks/Stages Coordinating Committee (TAPSCOM) allied to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) headed by Mr Yasiin Ssematimba.