Africa-Press – Uganda. Public transport fares from Kampala to upcountry destinations have more than doubled as thousands travel for the Christmas holiday.
A survey by this newspaper among taxi and bus companies showed a sudden surge in prices, which operators said was essential to keep them in business.
“The price of fuel is high and besides we have few people travelling and returning to Kampala,” Abdul Lubega, spokesperson for the New Taxi Park in Kampala said.
“So we have increased slightly to be able to remain in business,” he added.
Commodity prices went at the highest rate in three years in November, according to the Consumer Price Index compiled by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. The body noted that diesel prices had risen by 3.7 percent to Shs3,950 per litre while petrol prices was risen by 3.3 percent to an average of Shs4,358 per litre.
Fuel prices have continued to rise, with diesel now priced at an average of Shs4,500 per litre and petrol at Shs4,800.
Mr Lubega said they have been forced to increase prices due to a lower-than-usual number of passengers travelling upcountry. He blamed this on the coronavirus pandemic.
Abdurahman Alodo, a manager at Kalita Bus Transporters Company, said they have increased fares.
He added, however, that many would-be travellers are staying put to save money to pay fees when schools reopen next month.
An official at Global Bus terminal in Bakuli, who asked not to be named, said they were charging an extra Shs10,000 for journeys to Mbarara because there are few passengers making the return journey.
Despite claims of low numbers from officials, bus drivers who spoke to this newspaper at major bus terminals in the city including Kisenyi, Namayiba, and Bakuli said passenger numbers had doubled on average as people headed to the villages for the holidays.
Mr Robert Mutebi, the secretary of Uganda Bus Owners’ Association (UBOA) said last evening that fares would be doubled until Christmas Day to cater for the relatively empty return journeys of the buses.
“When we take people upcountry in these festive seasons, most of the buses come back to Kampala empty,” he said.
“So we add that extra amount such that the drivers can get the fuel back to Kampala and also be able to make some little money for themselves.”
Last year fares upcountry were even higher with public transporters restricted to half-capacity occupancy of their vehicles due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Transport fares upcountry have, over the years, risen sharply ahead of the Christmas season and this year is no different. Yesterday, different roads around Kampala experienced traffic gridlock as many travellers headed upcountry to avoid the overcrowding at the last minute.
Mr Hussein Kyazze, a taxi driver plying the Masaka-Kampala highway, yesterday told Daily Monitor that the increase in fares is inevitable.
Long distance bus laoder carries luggage of a passenger at the Kisenyi Bus Terminal in Kampala on December 20, 2021.
“You work at a disadvantage if you charge the clients the same amount that you have been charging,” he said. “People are getting out of Kampala and as you know we are meant to carry half capacity, so when we are returning, we need to compensate for that distance we are driving empty seats.
“We shall go back to normal after Christmas because at least on Christmas eve, most of the people have gone back so most of our buses are grounded.”
Earlier this month Works and Transport minister, Gen Katumba Wamala warned bus owners and taxi operators against increasing fares without consulting the ministry. He said those who flout the directive risk having their route charts and licences withdrawn. It appears that the pursuit of profit has triumphed over the fear of sanctions.
Taxis from Kampala
District Before Now
Kayunga 10,0000/= 15,000/=
Mbale 30,000/= 40,000/=
Tororo 30,000/= 40,000/=
Iganga 20,000/= 30,000/=
Kamuli 20,000/= 30,000/=
Jinja 15000/= 20,000/=
Masaka 20,000/= 30,000/=
Hoima 25,000/= 30,000/=
From Kampala to upcountry
Kampala to Mbarara Shs30,000 Shs40,000
Kampala to Kabale Shs40,000 Shs70,000
Kampala-Kisoro Shs50,000 Shs80,000
Kampala Ntungamo Shs30,000 Shs50, 000
Mbale-Iganga Shs10,000 Shs20,000
Mbale-Soroti Shs15,000 Shs20,000
Mbale-Kapchorwa Shs10,000 Shs20,000
Mbale-Tororo Shs5,000 Shs10,000
Mbale -Malaba Shs7,000 Shs12,000
Mbale- Busia Shs10,000 Shs15,000
Mbale -Moroto Shs40,000 Shs50,000
Kampala-Masaka Shs20,000 Shs35,000
Masaka- Lyantonde Shs5,000 Shs15,000
Masaka- Sembabule Shs10,000 Shs15,000
Kampala –Mutukula Shs30,000 Shs45,000
Masaka- Kalangala Shs15,000 Shs25,000
Kampala to Kasese Shs40,000 Shs50,000
Kampala to Fortportal Shs40,000 Shs50,000
Kampala to Bwera Shs40,000 Shs60,000
Kampala to Kisoro Shs60,000 Shs70,000
Kampala to Gulu Shs40,000 Shs50,000
Kampala to Soroti Shs40,000 Shs50,000