In market-based economies such as Uganda, it is economically unwise and reckless to regulate the public transport fares. It is also believed that government intervention in the market is ruinous and inimical to economic growth and development. However, the idea that market capitalism is impossible to regulate is wrong. Like state-led capitalism, market capitalism is somewhat flawed and has its own undesirable economic vagaries.
For example, in Kampala where market forces are presumed to be the main determinant of the public transport fares, the presence of UTODA as a dominant transit operator as well as a monopoly-like business organisation indicates a market system that is deeply flawed. UTODAâ€™s dominance in the transit industry in Kampala has enabled it to deceitfully use the market argument to buttress its position, constantly hike the minibus fares and hold car-less and poor commuters in the region at ransom.
Perhaps more importantly, the failure by the government to regulate the minibus fares in Kampala and other urban centres has made transit fares to be too unpredictable and to discourage poor and exploited commuters from saving. The escalation of transit fares has scared many would-be public transport users and increased poverty levels especially among the urban poor who are unable to access distant industrial centres where job opportunities are abundant. Both market capitalism and transit fares are controllable and Government intervention into the market is not necessarily a bad policy.
Singapore has been able to establish an efficient, well patronised and self-financing public transport system. It is the same in Malaysia. The problem of adopting foreign policies, however, is that it may not be possible to implement them in part because of institutional fragility.
Dr. Kiggundu Amin Tamale
Transport sector is exploitative