Kampala, Uganda | URN | Bus companies have revised transport fares ahead of their anticipated return on the road, two months after President Yoweri Museveni suspended public transport to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The buses are set to resume operations tomorrow June 4 on condition that each vehicle carries half of its capacity to ensure physical distancing. But as they resume, the transporters are expected to provide temperature guns to measure the body temperature of all travellers before they are allowed on board and ensure that whoever boards the vehicle has a face mask.
The reduction in the number of travellers has prompted bus operators to revise transport fares to break even. A number of them have since doubled the rates.
Emma Wabwire, the Operations Manager of YY Coaches and Couriers Services, says they have increased their fares by 10,000 Shillings. The new rate from Kampala to Mbale and Bukedea and Kachumbala has increased from 20,000 to 30,000 Shillings, according to a statement from YY Coaches.
Kampala to Soroti has increased from 25,000 to 35,000 Shillings while Kampala to Otuboi has increased from 30,000 to Shillings 40,000 Shillings. Passengers will pay 40,000 Shillings to travel from Kampala to Dokolo, Lwala, Agwatato and 45,000 Shillings to travel to Lira through Soroti.
On the northern route, the fares from Kampala to Lira through Karuma is now 35,000 from the usual 25,000 Shillings and Kampala to Apac through Karuma is 40,000 from 30,000 Shillings. According to the statement, the revised fares are ideal given the prevailing circumstances.
“If all goes according to plan, we shall resume on June 4 with the first bus departing at 7am and the last bus between 2-3pm utmost,” the statement reads.
Jude Tumwine, the Manager of Global Buses, says they have increased their fares from Kampala to Mbarara from 15,000 to 40,000 Shillings. Swift Safaris, which plies the Kampala- Mbarara and Kampala-Ishaka routes, has also revised its fares from 20,000 and 30,000 to 35,000 and 45,000 Shillings respectively.
Bus companies that ply border districts like Baby Coaches, GateWay Buses, Trinity and Jaguar have less hope of returning on the road soon. This is because public transport is still banned in the border districts, where the country had recorded more cases of coronavirus disease. Up to 40 districts are affected by the continuous ban.
Nathan Katumba, one of the managers at Trinity Buses told this publication that their operations are still suspended.
Bernard Okeng, a traveller to Lira says that the revised transport fares are fair to the travellers and bus operators given the fact that buses will carry fewer passengers as they travel. He says the fare will enable the bus operators to compensate for the empty seats as they comply with the COVID-19 preventive measures.