Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has unveiled plans aimed at streamlining the taxi business as a means of decongesting the city and restoring sanity in the transport system.
Speaking to Daily Monitor, Mr Lukwago, who is six months old in office, noted that taxis constitute the highest percentage of the entire city transport system but decried their poor management, which he said, affects both passengers and the economy.
“It’s no doubt that taxi operators are crying foul over mismanagement of their business by some leaders who have selfish interests. To resolve this impasse, the entire system must be overhauled so that sanity is restored. As leaders, we can’t sit and watch the situation get out of hands yet these are the challenges we are supposed to address,” he said.
The plans, which Mr Lukwago is yet to submit to council for approval, will involve introducing the constitution of the taxi operators leadership, clearly streamlining the composition of the taxi executive, tenure of office of the taxi operators leadership, disciplinary matters and registration of all taxi operators.
Others are gazetting of taxi stages, establishing stage or route identity, solid waste management and renovations in taxi parks, setting taxi fares, submission of periodical reports by taxi operators and application of taxi levy and stickers from Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
The Lord Mayor noted that to bridge the gap between taxi operators and KCCA, there ought to be a taxi monitoring committee to oversee the daily operations of the taxi operators, who will then report to the authority.
His plans come at a time when both KCCA and taxi operators are haggling over the management of taxis with the former accusing the latter of defying some policies meant to propel the business forward.
“Streamlining the taxi business should have been done yesterday. I am soon tabling a bill of ordinance on the management of taxis to the council so that we could have a law in place to guide both the authority and the taxi operators,” he said.
Since the exit of the Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (Utoda) in 2011, the management of taxis has been in the hands of KCCA.
To end the running battles, the Kampala minister, Ms Beti Olive Kamya, early this month revealed that there will be elections for taxi operators leaders, a move she said, would help to bring taxi operators together.
But taxi operators have asked them to first engage them on how elections will be held.
“We welcome the idea of elections because it will beyond doubt return normalcy to our business but before we go to polls, we need to first know the modalities under which we shall elect,” said Mr Mustapha Mayambala, the chairperson of Uganda Transporters Development Agency (Utrada).
On January 11, Ms Kamya wrote to KCCA executive director, Ms Jennifer Musisi, directing her to gazette more taxi parks and stages, something she said, would reduce congestion in the city since most taxi operators load and offload at illegal stages.
However, Mr Lukwago poked holes in the directive, arguing that before more parks and stages are gazetted, a comprehensive policy on the management of transport system in the city must be made.