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Taxi Operators in Eastern Region Cheating Commuters Despite Abandoning SOPs

Despite carrying at full capacity, the operators have doubled the fares. For instance, from Mbale to Soroti which was 10,000 Shillings, the fares have increased to 15,000 Shillings and 20,000 Shillings.

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Travellers in Eastern Uganda have accused taxi operators of charging them exorbitantly and violating the COVID- 19 Standard Operating Procedures-SOPs.

In March last year, President Yoweri Museveni banned the use of public transport following the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic. The ban was lifted in June but on condition that the public transport operators adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures-SOPs.

The SOPs included wearing of face masks by both the operators and the passengers, use of hand sanitisers. Taxes and buses were also directed to carry half of the required capacity to ensure social distancing to minimize COVID-19 transmission.

However, the transport fares doubled. Despite carrying at full capacity, the operators have doubled the fares.  For instance, from Mbale to Soroti which was 10,000 Shillings, the fares have increased to 15,000 Shillings and 20,000 Shillings. Transport from Mbale to Kampala has increased from 20,000 Shillings to 30,000 or 40,000 Shillings.     

Raymond Wasukira, a passenger who was travelling to Bududa says they are charged highly by the taxi operators yet they are crowded in the taxi, putting their lives at risk of contracting and spreading the covid-19.    

//Cue in: “E'sente zili wagulu….  

Cue out:…olusi bana”//    

Julius Wasukira, another passenger on the Mbale -Bududa road says that the traffic police should enforce the directives.

//Cue in: “Ositula abantu kumi namukaaga…   Cue out:...amateeka ga pulezidenti”//    

Shafi Bashir Mbanja, the publicity and general secretary of Mbale Taxi, Drivers, Conductors and Owner’s Association says that what the taxi operators are doing is illegal. He however cautioned the passengers against travelling in vehicles that are carrying excess passengers.    

Cue in: “Mbasaba babele bakakamu…  

Cue out:…babili babili”//   

Rogers Taitika, the Elgon Region Police Spokesperson, says that they have impounded several vehicles and arrested drivers defying the presidential directives.