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Traffic Officers Accused of Using Route Charts to Extort Money from Drivers

Tom Ssengendo, a driver operating from the New Taxi Park says that traffic officers, in a suspicious manner, divert them from their routes to roads where they find other officers who then accuse them of abusing their route chart. As a result, a number of drivers have been arrested or forced to pay bribes to bail themselves out.
A busy Kampala's Old taxi Park before the COVID-19 Outbreak. Most of the vehichles have not been on the road due to the lockdwon Credit Wambi Michael

Audio 4

Taxi drivers in Kampala are accusing Traffic Police Officers of extorting money from those found driving on routes other than those specified on their route charts. They reportedly target taxis with no displayed route charts on the windscreen.

The government, through Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA and the  Ministry of Works and Transport, started registering taxis in May 2020, allocating them route numbers and temporary route charts under a new arrangement to streamline public transport in Kampala. Only taxis with route charts were allowed on the road. 

The chart specifies the park of origin and the exit route to its destination. For instance, a taxi from New Taxi Park destined for Matugga indicates that it exits New Taxi Park through Mackay Road, Old Kampala, Sir Apollo Kaggwa road to Bwaise.  

But Tom Ssengendo, a driver operating from the New Taxi Park says that traffic officers, in a suspicious manner,  divert them from their routes to roads where they find other officers who then accuse them of abusing their route chart.  As a result, a number of drivers have been arrested or forced to pay bribes to bail themselves out.

//Cue in; "Chart route baagyituleetera...

Cue out...tekyampisa bulungi."//

In another incident, a taxi that was heading to Kawanda was held by traffic police for holding a route chart indicating Hoima Road.

Holding the chart, the officer walked about five meters away from the back of the taxi forcing the driver to follow him to get his route chart. The driver was shortly followed by his conductor before the two returned about ten minutes later.

"All they want is money. Do they expect me to drive a taxi without passengers just because I am not operating on my assigned route!" he murmured in discontent before later revealing that he gave them money to let him go.

Another driver, Abu Kasozi says the officers also take advantage of alternative routes that drivers use to avoid traffic jam.  Many of the drivers explore alternative routes during heavy traffic and rainy days to get to their destination. However, this is considered wrong under the new arrangement. Kasozi says he was arrested when he was found using Kasubi road while heading Matugga.

//Cue in; "Oyinza okuba ovuddewano...       

Cue out...bwokka bwengyirabamu"//

William Mukwaya, another taxi operator says that the car hire service has become another opportunity for police to extort money from them. Mukwaya says that even when their clients have an introductory letter from their Local Councils explaining why they are not following the routechart, some police officers insist and impound the vehicles.

//Cue in; "Kakati nga yafunye...

Cue out...zooyinaa ossasula"//

Another operator Isa Mugerwa says they now involve local police if they want to ply different routes. The police provide them with a letter explaining why they are taking a different route.

//Cue in; "Bwobanga route chart...

Cue out...yennyini nebagyisika."// 

The Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs Betty Amongi maintains that any taxi found on the road without a route chart should be impounded. She encouraged taxis to stick to their specified routes.