The Ministry of Transport has held a stakeholder meeting in the Public Sector to harmonize efforts to improve mobility within the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area.
The meeting follows a directive from President Yoweri Museveni to the Ministry of Finance to fast track the Tondeka Metro Buses’ Initiative aimed at improving urban transport services in and around the capital city.
A total of 980 Ashok Leyland buses from Hinduja Group- India, are going to be imported initially to kick start a safe, reliable and affordable public transport system in metropolitan Kampala.
The buses which will be known as Tondeka, will initially ply Kampala-Mukono on Jinja Road, Kampala- Nsangi on Masaka Road, Kampala- Buloba on Mityana Road, Kampala- Wakiso on Hoima Road , Kampala-Matugga on Bombo Road; Kampala – Entebbe and Kampala- Ggaba.
They are expected to hit the Metropolitan Kampala roads in the next nine months.
Speaking after a closed meeting at the Ministry of Works and Transport offices on Wednesday, the Tondeka Metro Board Chairman Dr Peter Kimbowa assured Ugandans that the introduction of the Ashok Leyland buses is a very definitive answer to decongest the city.
“Congestion is everyone’s problem in this city and even beyond. Initially, we are bringing in 980 buses and they will be followed by more 2,000 buses to ensure that within a radius of 25kms from Kampala there’s nothing called congestion,” said Dr Kimbowa.
The tondeka metro bus service system is complementing the existing systems but we are going to ensure that there’s speed, affordability, and reliability to all, including the disabled and children. The buses will be available 24-7 and there’s going to be precision, comfort, and safety.”
The board chairman also reaffirmed that the initiative will be a self-financing project, operating under a special purpose vehicle managed by Uganda Development Corporation.
On the other hand, Hinduja Group, renown manufacturers of the Leyland brand are expected to manage a robust cashless system that will see passengers for the first time in the history of Urban transport in Uganda use Radio Frequency Identification Cards (rfid-Cards) to swipe their way on board.
“Passengers will load money on their bus card and simply swipe it to be granted access. The buses will not be handling cash. Passenger fares will range from Shs1,200 for a single route card, Shs3,500 for a daily travel card, Shs1,8000 for a weekly card and Shs55,000 for a monthly travel card,” said Dr Kimbowa.
On his part, State Minister for Works Gen Katumba Wamala said government welcomed the Tondeka Metro buses Initiative to since they have faith that it will stop decongestion on roads, stop wasting time during travel as well as do away with pollution in the city.
He also noted that since the operators have engaged stakeholders at all levels by the time the project comes into operation, it would have been sold to everyone who wants to have a better-organized city.
On the issue of making the initiative a political matter, the minister said, “Well the same politicians have been complaining about the congestion on the roads and this is coming to address that because many, even on the floor of parliament complain, for example, the congestion from Mukono to Kampala so this comes as a solution to all those complaints.”
“I don’t think even the politicians love to see the mess in our city, nobody loves. You know how many people are getting hurt every day on boda bodas . If we can have the boda bodas become part of the solution to this improved transport so be it, everyone will be a winner.”
The project is expected to create more than 1,2000 direct jobs for drivers, route marshals among others.
“The taxi operators will be highly prioritised for the jobs,” said Amanda Ngabirano, Tondeka Metro Board member.
The meeting was attended by all relevant stakeholders including the minister of Kampala, Local Government, Trade, heads of Security Organs, KCCA, Uganda Railway, Uganda Development Corporation, NEMA and local governments of Wakiso, Mukono, Kira, Makindye Ssabagabo, Entebbe, Nansana among others.