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.
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
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.
//Cue in: "Yes Tujja netubeerawo...
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.
//Cue in: "Mukyiseera kino tubadde...
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.
//Cue in: "Abamu tulina ...
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.
//Cue in: "Naye yakeera kumakya...
Cue out: ...fenna tuli basiiwuufu"//
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
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.
//Cue in: "Enkola yetubadde nayo...
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.