Following last month’s taxi strike that paralysed business in Mbale Municipality, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Gen Kale Kayihura, has directed Mbale Taxi Drivers’ Conductors’ and Owners’ Sacco to take over full management of Mbale Main Taxi Park.
More than 300 taxi drivers went on a sit-down strike protesting the manner in which the tender to manage the taxi park was awarded.
The municipal council headed by the town clerk, Mr Edward Lwanga, awarded the tender to Bugisu Taxi Operators and Owners’ Sacco but the drivers argue the tender was awarded without following the right procedure.
The drivers also claim there was no competitive bidding.
“Those awarded the tender are neither drivers nor owners of vehicles. How can they win the tender yet that was one of the prerequisites?” the drivers inquired.
However, the director of police operations, Mr Asuman Mugenyi, who represented the IGP at the taxi drivers’ end of year party last Sunday insisted that the drivers take charge of the park management as per President Museveni’s directive on parks.
“Don’t be intimidated by anyone. You must manage the taxi park yourselves,” Mr Mugenyi said.
Mr Mugenyi said the council acted contrary to the President’s directive for taxi parks to be managed by taxi drivers themselves.
No municipal council official attended the function.
Mr Mugenyi also warned police against interfering with taxi park operations.
“We have reports that some of the security officers are fighting taxi drivers and want to take over the park. We are going to investigate the claims,” he said.
The Mbale deputy Resident District Commissioner, Ms Pamela Watuwa, urged taxi drivers to embrace the saving culture to enable them fight poverty.
In regard to their safety and security, the Elgon regional police commander, Mr Francis Chemusto, asked the drivers to be security conscious and report any suspected criminals to police.
“You need to act like a watchdog in order to wipe out suspected criminals. There is no way police can fight crime alone,” Mr Chemusto, said.