Taxi drivers in Kabale town have resorted to hiking transport fares over what they refer to as tough traffic rules under the revised express penalty scheme.
The taxi drivers say that they want the government to withdraw the new traffic rules.
The move follows the law that came into force recently following the issuance of Statutory Instrument No 9 of 2013, by the Ministry of Works in April.
The move has seen a hike in the fines slapped on the drivers for a number of traffic offences. One offence of particular concern for the taxi operators is the fine for overloading of passengers which has gone up from 60,000 shillings to 200,000 shillings.
Other fines include 80,000 shillings for failure of a driver or a passenger to wear a seat belt.
Taxi drivers in Kabale have also responded by hiking the transport fares saying that they have been hit hard by the new traffic rules.
Joseph Mugisha a taxi driver along the Kabale Mbarara road, says that the drivers have decided to transfer the burden of the fines to their passengers.
Mugisha says before EPS came into force, a taxi could safely transport four people per row hence a total of 18 passengers. With the heavy fines, they have been forced to strictly transport 14 passengers and make less money.
Mugisha says that he now charges 15, 000 shillings for the journey from Kabale to Mbarara up from between 10,000 to 12,000 shillings.
From Kabale to Ntungamo town, the costs have also gone up from 6,000shillings to 8,000 shillings while from Kabale to Kisoro the fares have gone up from 12,000 shillings to 15,000shillings.
Mugisha says that there is need for the government to intervene and grant the drivers enough time to be able to comply with the new rules.
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John Mutabazi, another taxi driver, says that the drivers approached the police in Kigezi region to give them enough time to fix seat belts. He complains that police gave them a very short grace period yet genuine seat belts are scarce on the market. The police now fines them for not having seat belts.
He says that as a consequence, fares have had to rise. He says that the cost of transport from Kabale to Katuna border has gone up from 3,000 shillings to 5,000 shillings.
He says that this has resulted into bitter reactions from the passengers who say that the move by the taxi drivers is aimed at exploiting them.
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Santurina Asiimwe, a teacher in Ntungamo district, says that she has been paying shillings 5,000 from Kabale to Ntungamo but with the fare higher, she is finding it difficult to travel.
She has been forced to travel only when necessary. This means she travels back to her ancestral home once a month.
Katurebe Pius is another passenger, believes the drivers are using the EPS fines to simply exploit the passengers.
Elly Maate, the Kigezi regional police spokesperson, says police has actually been understanding.
He says that the new conditions are aimed at saving the lives of Ugandans who die at the hands of reckless drivers. He urges the aggrieved taxi operators to ensure that all negotiations are handled by their association at the national level with the police bosses instead of trying to run away from the new laws.
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Early this month transporters in eastern Uganda decided to their operations to compel government to stop the implementation of the revised express penalty scheme.
They argued that the revised express scheme was introduced illegally and contains exorbitant fines.
This month transporters in eastern Uganda decided to their operations to compel government to stop the implementation of the revised express penalty scheme.
The argued that the revised express scheme was introduced illegally and contains exorbitant fines.