THE Government has suspended all un-receipted dues paid by taxi drivers to the Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (UTODA), which manages the taxi parks in the city.
As a result, the drivers also agreed to call off the strike that paralysed passenger transport in Kampala city yesterday.
The official receipted charges include sh4,500 paid by each taxi daily and sh20,000 paid monthly for Kampala City Council stickers.
In addition to these charges, taxi drivers also pay â€˜loading feesâ€™, which are equivalent to the fare of three passengers.
The fee is paid each time a vehicle loads passengers from the taxi parks or city stages. Taxi drivers argue that no receipts are issued for these fees.
Drivers are also required to pay welfare fees. According to the drivers, the fees amount to sh5,000 per day, but the amount varies depending on the stage.
These un-receipted charges are at the centre of a dispute between the leaders of the Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (UTODA) and the taxi drivers, who recently formed an organisation called Drivers and Conductors Central Association (DACCA).
UTODA insists that the welfare fees were introduced by the drivers to help them when they have financial problems. They argue that the money is in custody of stage committees.
The Government yesterday said it had instituted investigations into the collection and utilisation of all the un-receipted funds for the next three weeks.
After a two-hour closed meeting between the Vice-President, Edward Ssekandi, and the two warring parties at the Cabinet library yesterday, drivers and conductors agreed to resume work immediately.
The DACCA leader, Mustapha Mayambala, told journalists last evening that he briefed President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday about the extra charges and the harassment subjected to the drivers by UTODA personnel.
The meeting with Ssekandi followed another one between DACCA leaders and information minister Mary Karooro Okurut at Fairway Hotel that ended at about 2:00am yesterday.
In the meeting with Ssekandi, the parties also agreed to institute a committee to investigate the allegations of misappropriation of the funds that have been the basis of suspicion between the two driversâ€™ groups resulting into the strike.
Ssekandi, however, warned that those who refrain from paying the receipted dues must be denied entry into the taxi parks.
Security state minister Muruli Mukasa, who also attended the meeting, said there is dissatisfaction in the way money is collected and shared among UTODA members.
He asked UTODA officials to abide by the Governmentâ€™s decision and called upon the two rival taxi associations to work together as they execute their business.
UTODA chairman Hajji Musa Katongole, who turned up with his executive, declined to comment on the matter, and was locked in a crisis meeting by press time.
DACCA was represented by Mayambala and his team. Later, Mayambala addressed a press conference at the Uganda Journalists Association offices at Maria galleria, reaffirming their decision to call off the strike.
Last month, a section of drivers petitioned the Kampala Capital City Authority, protesting the welfare fees and alleged harassment by UTODA agents collecting the money.
After meeting the drivers, the Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, summoned UTODA officials over several complaints, but they failed to turn up.
The Kampala executive director, Jennifer Musisi, stopped the meeting saying it was ill-advised.
Addressing journalists yesterday, Lukwago said the authority had called a special council meeting on Wednesday to address issues relating to the public transport system.
He argued that if his meeting with UTODA had taken place, the situation would not have degenerated into a crisis.
Compiled by Taddeo Bwambale, Juliet Waiswa, Pascal Kwesiga and Henry Ssekanjako
Government stops extra UTODA charges