By Dan Ayebare
Kampala Capital City Authority Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has said the government is mixing up issues and taking a ‘huge gamble’ on a ‘complex matter’ while setting guidelines on the step by step reopening of public transport in the city.
Lukwago in a telephone interview with the Nile post said government should have invited different stakeholders in order to come up with a robust system.
“We were already planning. We have a multi model transport plan in the offing. We have several arrangements to regulate bodabodas and taxis. The problem is that they are mixing two issues. The transport structural plan and post lockdown measures,’” Lukwago stated.
The Ministry of Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan affairs through the Uganda Media Centre on Thursday released strict guidelines ahead of reopening public transport in the City on 4th July as directed by president recently.
Among them is the mandatory use of Personal Protection Equipment to reduce direct contact between passengers and vehicle staff. Checking temperature and using other possible systems to check for other possible symptoms will be required. Each passenger service vehicle (PSV) will also be required to have hand washing facilities while all passengers will be required to wear masks.
As earlier directed by the president, all public transport vehicles will operate at half capacity and no touts will be allowed in the parks or loading stages.
Starting Friday 29th May, all taxi operators started reporting to KCCA to be assigned parks/ loading stages and routes where they will be operating. After going through this procedure, they will be required to report to the Ministry of works and transport to obtain a temporary route chart that is valid only until 31st December 2020.
The mandatory fees to be paid are PSV license, renewal of driving permit if expired and third party insurance. For the remaining government fees, transport operators have been a grace period of Si months until 31st December 2020.
The document signed by the Minister of Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs Betty Amongi also indicates that the grace period is to allow public transport operators to obtain a permanent route chart and other related user fees. It indicates that, starting 1st January 2021, all vehicles that would have not complied will not be allowed to operate in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan area.
Lukwago urged the government to put minimum arrangements to observe health standards in this pandemic, rather than coming up with comprehensive measures to re-organise transport.
“We can’t have a development policy in a crisis. Right now we should focus on managing the health crisis as we work out a recovery program in all spheres of the economy,” Lukwago stated.
Lukwago also argued that though decongestion is key, the idea of public service vehicles carrying half their normal capacity isn’t feasible. He rather suggested it is more sensible to screen whoever enters the vehicle and make sure everyone has a mask on, as social distance in a bus or taxi is ‘close to impossible’.
Boda bodas in the meantime will not be allowed to carry passengers and will continue observing curfew time according to the document.
“The boda bodas play a critical role in transporting a good number of people in the city but they need to be regulated to enhance the safety of the public. Government is in the process of finalising the extent of a bodaboda free zone and gazetting of stages in the city. Future bodaboda operations will also be subjected to Standard Operating Procedures. Gazetting of stages and their return will be communicated in due course,” states the document.