By Job Bwire
Chaos broke out at the Nakawa taxi park as the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) officials clashed with taxi operators as they tried to enforce the mandatory monthly taxi fees of sh120, 000 on them.
It all started when KCCA officials attempted to block commuter taxis from accessing or leaving the taxi parks without receipts indicating payment of the fees.
Charged and armed with stones that they hurled at the authority officials, the taxi operators argued that the move was premature, saying it was too early to start collecting the monthly dues.
The 12 KCCA officials were forced to leave after being overwhelmed by the numerical strength of the drivers who were charged and armed with stones.
The drivers further claimed they were being exploited by the authority as they claimed the fee was too high for them, yet they had more pressing issues like meeting their families’ basic needs.
“Right now I am thinking of how to raise money to pay my child’s school fees. We are also Ugandans who need to enjoy our rights,” said Siraji Lutwama, taxi operator at Nakawa.
According to Isa Wajadi, the driver who caused trouble, he had presented the photocopy of all the documents that KCCA officials wanted.
“However, the officials insisted they wanted the original copies and tried to handcuff me as though I was a criminal. My pleas with them fell on a deaf ear, consequently leading to the intervention of the other drivers,” he said.
However, contrary to the taxi driver, one of the KCCA enforcement officials who preferred anonymity said the scuffle ensued when they attempted to arrest Wajadi who was found to have defaulted payment of the dues since May this year.
“When we asked for the proper documents, he only showed us the receipt of April this year and claimed the other documents were with his boss (employer),” said the official.
For about two hours, business was paralyzed and potential passengers were left stranded.
The KCCA spokesperson, Peter Kaujju however maintains that the city authority will continue with the exercise until all taxi drivers have cleared the payment. He also warned that those who have not cleared will not be allowed to operate in the city.
“There was a group of people trying to sabotage the process by fighting our enforcement officers but we shall not allow it,” he said.
The incident comes at a time after KCCA deferred the registration and licensing of the city boda boda operators that had been slated for early this month.