“For public transport in the districts that are not near the border, this will be relaxed on June 4. During this time, those concerned will discuss with transporters and make sure everything is in order,” President Museveni Declared on his 15th Address to the Nation.
Since the declaration, Ministry of Works & Transport, Ministry of Health(MOH) and KCCA have raced to come up with Standard Operating procedures for Public transport ahead of 4th June.
Behind the scenes, the Authorities have been conducting Consultative meetings to In-cooperate views of all affected stakeholders, to galvanize and streamline operations in line with MOH and Presidential directives in the fight against COVID-19.
By 28th June, Minister of Kampala, Betty Amongi announced an overhaul to Public transport within Greater Kampala metropolitan Area; providing a blue-print for country-wide operations for Taxi operators.
Less was said about long distance buses plying major routes across the the country.
STUMBLING BLOCK: CURFEW Vs PUBLIC TRANSPORT Vs FARE
The bus drivers and owners while appearing before Parliament’s National Economy Committee scrutinizing the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on Businesses, punched holes into Government plans highlighting part of President’s directives that will continue to sink the sector if not revised.
“For border districts, we shall not allow public or private transport. They are on the frontline. They are the ones that can either save or destroy us by allowing infiltration from neighbouring countries,” President Museveni instructed.
The first directive that cripples operations of most bus companies since most pick passengers from border towns all the way to Central region.
“Operating without reaching the border districts will also affect in-country operations since most of the buses ply from the borders or get the travellers from the border areas of Kisoro, Kitgum, Arua, Bwera, Hoima and Tororo among others,” Argues Nathan Byanyima, Chairperson of Bus drivers and Owners association.
Byanyima estimates half their income will interfered if they can’t reach border districts.
The President in his last address maintained Curfew hours from 7pm-6:30am remain in place for 21 days.
However, The Western Region Bus Drivers’ representative, Umaru Dungu proposes revision of curfew hours since buses are a 24 HR service with 80% of the operations at night.
The bus companies have agreed to carry half the licenced capacity and will charge an extra fee of Ugx. 15,000-20,000 per head.
In their Final Submission to Syda Bumba, Chairperson National Economy of Parliament, they want a waiver of interest in bank loans, a capitalization fund for bus drivers, suspension of payment of all government levies among others.
Public transport is expected to resume on 4th June.