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Public Transporters Count on Overloading to Break Even Amidst Soaring Fuel Prices

According to Umar Ddungu, the chairperson of western route bus transporters, a 67 passenger capacity bus consumes 250 litres of fuel between Kampala and Mbarara, which now costs over 1.5 million shillings, but passengers are have refused to pay more than 20,000. This means even with a full booking, they start the trip with a loss of over half a million shillings after losing on 160,000 shillings fuel, before even counting other mandatory charges amounting to 433,000 shillings at the bus park.
05 Jul 2022 11:59

Audio 5

Public transport operators are now relying on passenger overloading to break ever since fuel prices started rising, now almost doubled in the last six months.

  The pump fuel prices now stand at an average of 6,200 shillings for both diesel and Petrol at filling stations. The transporters say they had to find solutions to break even and stay in business.

According to Umar Ddungu, the chairperson of western route bus transporters, a 67 passenger capacity bus consumes 250 litres of fuel between Kampala and Mbarara, which now costs over 1.5 million shillings, but passengers are have refused to pay more than 20,000. This means even with a full booking, they start the trip with a loss of at least 160,000 shillings, before even counting other mandatory charges at the bus park.

He says the official fare for the route is 30,000 shillings, but passengers insist on 20,000 shillings.   

Ddungu adds that the fact that there are fewer travelers, the buses hardly set off from the parks full, which further affects their profitability.

  This means, according to him, that they either leave the park with few passengers or carry the passengers at lower fares.

  //Cue in; “You take fifty people …..//

  Cue out; ….. is no business.”//

  He adds that even though the bus could fill to capacity, a journey to Mbarara would have collected 1,340,000 shillings, meaning the journey starts at a 160,000 shilling deficit. And this has to be made up for along the road and then hopefully even make a profit.

  “We have no option, if we are to make a living, in this current situation, we have to overload if we are to survive because at their fuel prices, for us to break even, the Mbarara fare would be 40,000 shillings,” Ddungu says

  Return routes would be another way of maximising returns, though Ddungu says this is highly unreliable because in most cases a bus returns with very few passengers who even bargain for cheaper fares before boarding.

  //Cue in; “Actually in bus ….//

Cue out; …….bear with them.”//

  According Ddungu, before a bus gets out of the park, it must pay 80,000 shillings to the driver, 30,000 shillings to the conductor, turn man 20,000, 53,000 Park fee, and 250,000 shillings to the brokers who load the bus.

  The situation in bus operators, is not different from that in the taxis, and some of the taxi drivers URN interacted with have experiences to shares.

  Abdallah Ssango a driver at Luzira-Mutungo stage, says that irrespective of the current fuel price, their fares since the ease of lockdown have remained the same, because of a few passengers who are not even willing to pay any additional money.

  Ssango to says that to and from the park to Mutungo, they consume 4 litres of fuel costing more than 20,000 shillings on which they add other expenses and all this is leading to strained business;

Luganda

//Cue in “tutwalila ekumi bbili ……//

Cue out; …… route eba nfu.”//

  

According to Ssango, the only hope is on the return routes and if it fails, that is a loss already, and sometimes they use passengers’ money to fuel their cars;

Luganda

//Cue in: “Ela twavanga wano …… //

Cue out; …… onojja kustage nezikudizza,”//