Taxi Operators Struggling to Survive Amidst Lockdown

URN visited selected taxi parks in the city area to see how taxi operators were copying. At Kas Club Taxi Park in Bwaise in Kawempe division, URN found more than 10 drivers sited in groups of two and fours.
01 Apr 2020 10:53

Audio 5

Taxi operators are feeling the pinch following the ban on public transport as part of the measure against the spread of the corona virus. President, Yoweri Museveni banned public transport for 14 days on March 26th, 2020 to regulate the movement of people.

Unlike their Boda boda counterparts, taxis were not even allowed to offer delivery services. URN visited selected taxi parks in the city area to see how taxi operators were coping with the lock down. At Kas Club Taxi Park in Bwaise in Kawempe division, URN found more than 10 drivers seated in groups of two and fours.    

As our reporter moved to engage the operators, about ten of them rushed towards her. It later emerged that one of them has lied to the others that the reporter had delivered food packs hence the rush to get a share. Kas Club Taxi Park that started about four months ago has about 50 drivers and 40 conductors.  

Joseph Ssebukalu is the chairperson Kas Club Taxi Park. He explains that they come every day to the park to think collectively and plan on how to survive the ban.

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Cue out: ...beyongera bweyongezi"//


Taxi operators usually have a welfare bag that is used to rescue members during emergencies like sickness, loss of job and loss of life among others. However, Ssebukalu says Kas hasn’t yet established its welfare bag strongly. He says they had just started the initiative for member to save Shillings 2000 daily and had only collected Shillings 260,000 from a few compliant members.


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Cue out: ...bwetutambuza emirimu gyaffe"//

Muwereza Mayambala is a driver at Mulago stage in the Old taxi Park and Katooke stage in Kas Taxi Park. The 46-year-old father of eight is puzzled about how to sustain his family. 

Every morning Mayambala rides his bicycle from his home in Katooke to Bwaise with a hope of finding a job for the day. He has no savings as all his money had just gone into paying school fees for his children. He is worried that he could die of stress and hunger as the country flees COVID 19.

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Cue out: ...kyokka nnina famire"//


While working, Mayambala earns between Shillings 20,000 and 25,000 daily and spends about Shillings 15,000 to run his family. He now hopes that government can come to their rescue with food packs because the food they had stocked is running out already.

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The situation is no different with operators on Entebbe Stage. Richard Kiyaga, the Chairman of all Entebbe stages in Kampala, says that since the president announced the suspension, they all dispersed and are hustling individually. 

Many have had to survive on their little savings as they don’t have any collective arrangement as a stage. He says the operators don’t have a saving initiative that can rescue them in such times. He is now praying this passes and they get back to work.

Nevertheless, there are some operators that have not had to cry as much as the rest. At Ddembe Taxi Park in Bwaise, the drivers have saved some money that they have since shared. The park chairman, Shafik Teera says they had saved a total of Shillings 10.5 million, which they shared equally among their 150 drivers and 200 conductors.

Although the Shillings 30,000 is not enough to take them through the period of lockdown, they have had a pack to carry home as some seemed stranded.  

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Cue out: ...bweneba ekyisawo bweti"//

In his address on Monday evening, President, Museveni said government was aware of the difficulties taxi operators are going through and promised to provide them supplies once the epidemic is finally dealt with.