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High Fuel Prices, Eviction of Street Vendors Keep Vehicles Off the Road

Brian Basudde a motorist from Buloba said that just earlier this year, he used to use 10 liters of fuel from Buloba to Kampala for work at Nabugabo road for 40,000 shillings but that currently, he spends 60,000 shillings for the same amount of fuel.
Tuesday prices at City Oil Kamwokya station

Audio 5

The increase in fuel prices and the eviction of street vendors have combined to reduce the volume of traffic in Kampala. For more than a month now, there has been an apparent reduction in traffic on the streets, with even the rush hours of the morning, lunchtime, and evening being a little more bearable than before. 

And on Monday the situation was even more notable, with the usual black spots for traffic jams in the city and the outskirts remaining clear of traffic. Motorists admitted that driving a private car was now being reserved for circumstances without any other option.

Making cost comparisons, many said that it was now costlier to use a private vehicle to commute to work daily than it used to be before the increase in fuel prices. Brian Basudde, a motorist from Buloba, said that just earlier this year, he used to use 10 liters of fuel from Buloba to Kampala for work at Nabugabo road which would cost him Shillings 40,000. 

He, however, currently spends Shillings 60,000 for the same amount of fuel. Basudde believes that it is no longer affordable for some motorists to drive depending on the fuel consumption of one's vehicle. 

Luganda Audio 

//Cue in: “prices z’amafuta….. 

Cue out…..expenditure yoku bintu ebimu”.//  

To some, their employers have come in handy with official transport, while others are surviving on the company's ability to provide fuel. Brian Muwonge from Ntinda said that he had parked his car and decided to take advantage of the company vehicle to access the town. Muwonge says that in the absence of company transport, he only goes to town for a strong reason.

//Cue in: "Because you're looking at…… 

Cue out….. a very good reason,”//   

According to Muwonge, known commuters in his neighborhood have increasingly opted to walk to Kampala for work and back home.  The situation is also echoed in the taxi industry, with much fewer mini buses in their parks, which are otherwise, usually fully packed. This is not because the operators cannot afford fuel, but because fewer people are traveling to and from town now.  

Sulaiman Buyungo, a taxi driver in the new taxi park plying Kawanda Matugga route also suspects that more people could be using Boda bodas since they are more or less charged the same as taxis.  

//Cue in: “ Olwaleero tugeze emmotoka……  

Cue out……mumakubo temukyali mmotoka,”//  

Ambrose Kababulindi from the old taxi park plying the Nsambya route also expressed also noted that low passenger flow in the taxi parks despite people parking their private vehicles home.  

//Cue in: Luli nga embeera……  

Cue out…….abalinya taxi nabo batono,”// 

Sulaiman Muyungo, another motorist believes the eviction of street vendors had affected traffic. According to Muyungo, over a month ago, vehicles and Boda bodas were doing a lot of business transporting street vendors and their goods. 

But since the eviction, many of them no longer go to the city center, which has also led to low demand for motor transport.

//Cue in: "Ate n'ekilala...

Cue in...mu Kampala."//

Kampala, like many cities, faces a challenge of traffic congestion, which escalates at peak hours. It is estimated that over 24,000 hours of labor are lost every year from traffic jams alone. Fuel prices have continued to rise steadily since late last year, with the trend largely attributed to global crude fuel prices. 

In the recent increases, Total Energies has been the first to quote the price of fuel at Shillings 6,200 a liter of Petro, and Shillings 6,020 for Diesel, while at Shell, diesel was more expensive at Shillings 6,060.   

The high cost of diesel has also been influenced by markets like the UK, which imported most of its diesel from Russia.  Following the sanctions by the west, it switched to purchasing from elsewhere, which has put pressure on the price of diesel in other markets, pushing it higher in some cases than that of petrol.  

These prices keep changing for various reasons.  A mini-survey around Kampala showed that the lowest price was Shillings 5,800 a liter, and this could change overnight, according to marketers.  Traders and government officials have expressed anxiety over the impending elections in Kenya in August this year regarding stability in the supply of fuel and other goods in Uganda.  

Recently, the State Minister for Finance, Planning, and Economic Development, Henry Musasizi said plans were almost complete to ensure that Uganda imports more of her goods via Tanzania's Dar es Salaam port. This is a contingency plan by Uganda just in case the politics in Kenya disrupts the delivery of imports to Uganda.  

In recent months, smaller fuel stations in Uganda have been selling the products more expensively than the two big market leaders, which is attributed to the sanctions on some companies in Kenya, Rubis, and Stabex for allegedly violating procurement regulations. 

This has made it harder for the smaller companies that largely rely on the supplies from Kenya, as opposed to Shell and Total that import their fuel.

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