Cooperatives & Communities

Drivers petition minister over harassment and extortion in Kampala

KAKUMIRO-Over 100 taxi drivers plying Hoima-Kampala route have petitioned the State Minister for Works and Transport, Fred Byamukama, accusing their leaders in Kampala of harassment and extortion.

The petition by 107 taxi drivers under Hoima-Kampala Drivers’ Association comes a few days after the same drivers withdrew their taxis from the taxi park in Kampala, complaining of corruption exhibited by those manning their stage.

The drivers days ago stormed the Minister’s home in Kikwaya village Kakumiro district where they handed him their petition explaining the suffering and harassment subjected to them by stage managers in Kampala.

Mugenyi Francis Jawe, the chairman of the association said the conflict between them [drivers] and stage leaders- headed by Wilson Kigonzi, started after the regulations governing the park were disregarded, especially the abuse of stage route chat 49 which Kampala City Capital Authority [KCCA], the managers of the city, allocated to them.

Mugenyi explained that Hoima-Kampala stage has 107 taxis allocated to it but they were shocked when their leaders fraudulently added extra 30 taxis, bringing confusion among drivers of this particular Kajajata stage.

Further, he said passengers in Hoima are charged Shs 20,000 to travel to Kampala yet those in Kampala are charged Shs 25, 000 to travel back to Hoima, something he said is making taxis lose business to buses operating on the same route.

Frank Gujwa, a driver and taxi owner said corrupt leaders in Kampala are pushing them out of business, adding that some drivers can take a week without accessing the stage, despite the various unexplained fees that they pay.

Ham Mugisa, a driver and the chairman of Hoima Taxi/Bus Owners and Drivers Cooperative Society said that Kampala leaders do not involve them in the decision-making, as well as misusing the SACCO money.

In response, Minister Byamukama pledged that they would address the grievances of the taxi drivers who have to pay various fees to operate, including Shs 20,000 loading fee that they said was abolished by president Museveni.

He also ordered the stage leaders to immediately stop the collection of loading fees of Shs 20, 000 and other charges, saying they are doing it illegally.

In a phone interview, Kigonzi the chairman of Kajajata stage in Kampala denied the allegations of the taxi drivers, saying such allegations are aimed at tarnishing his name.

He noted all the fees charged at the stage were agreed upon by the stage’s management and the drivers. He said he is ready to discuss the matter with the aggrieved drivers.

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