Govt to meet bus operators over rising fares ahead of Christmas

Transport fares hiked on major upcountry routes ahead of Christmas

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The Ministry of Works and Transport is gearing up for a meeting with transport operators to address concerns of unwarranted fare hikes in public transport ahead of Christmas festivities.

General Edward Katumba Wamala announced that the ministry will engage leaders from the Uganda Taxi and Drivers Association (UTODA), the Federation of Uganda Taxi Operator (UTOF), and the Uganda Bus Drivers and Allied Association early next week to reach an agreement on fare adjustments.

Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed alarm on Wednesday 13, December 2023 regarding excessively high and exploitative public transport fares on routes in Northern, West Nile, Eastern, and Western Uganda leading up to Christmas, causing inconvenience for travelers.

Nathan Byanyima, the Chairperson of the Bus Drivers and Owners Association and Bukanga County Member of Parliament, defended the elevated fares ahead of Christmas, citing the need for cost management as buses return empty to Kampala after dropping off passengers.

However, Speaker Anita Among challenged this justification, urging bus operators to show consideration and avoid profiting excessively from vulnerable passengers, especially given the challenging economic climate.

Acholi transport operators carry passengers at full capacity, double fares
Commuter taxis in Kampala, Uganda. Courtesy Photo

General Katuma emphasized the importance of the upcoming meeting, scheduled for next week on a yet-to-be-determined day, to address concerns not only about fare adjustments but also regarding issues such as over-speeding and safety measures to prevent accidents during the festive season.

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A Traffic Police report highlighted that over 70 lives were lost during the Christmas festive week in 2022, with causes attributed to overspeeding, drink driving, and carelessness, among other factors.

Some bus terminals visited by our reporter reported slight increases in transport fares. For instance, at Namayiba and Bombo Road bus terminals, fares from Kampala to Gulu City rose from 30,000 to 35,000 shillings, Kitgum increased from 40,000 to 45,000 shillings, and fares to Kaabong went up from 55,000 to 60,000 shillings.

However, at Kisenyi Bus Terminal, fares to Kasese, Fort Portal, Bundibugyo, and Hoima remained unchanged.