Christmas is a big deal in Uganda. It is that time of the year when the towns move to the villages. It is also a time when thieves are on the prowl more than ever.
Because of the high human traffic as urbanites - both Christian and non-Christian - take advantage of the long holiday to join their kinsmen upcountry, transport fares automatically shoot up in line with the economic theory of demand and supply
In the quest to make a kill from the desperate travellers, public service vehicle operators usually throw all caution to the wind and try to make as many trips up country as possible, in the process causing accidents adding to the already Uganda's bad road accident statistics.
"Christmas and accidents seem to go together in Uganda," Police say, warning the public to always take precaution around the festive season.
Moses Muhumza, booking clerk Link Bus Services in Kampala advises people to travel before the 20th December if they are to have a hustle free journey.
"From experience we have seen that by 20th December the fares tend to go up. People should prepare to travel early," Muhumuza says.
Emma Wabwire, an operations manager with YY Coaches calls upon passengers to be vigilant as they travel to the villages for the festive period.
"Make sure that you look after your luggage. Do not accept offers of assistance from strangers," he cautions.
Aseera Lillian, an administration manager at Link Bus Services shares similar sentiments.
"This is Kampala. You need to be vigilant. This is the time of the year when thieves are on the loose."
With effect from December 1, some bus companies will cease operating from Qualicell Bus Terminal, after a directive from the Uganda Transport Licensing Board. So you need to plan your journey early enough—if your preferred bus will be operating from new terminals such as the new one in Kisenyi, a Kampala suburb or at the central bus terminal at Qualicel.
Travel tips from experts
- Plan your journey and travel early before the rush period
- Check the condition of the vehicle you are travelling in, at least the tyres are the most obvious
- Alert the police if the driver is over-speeding or behaving queer
- Mind your luggage and belongings
- At the bus terminals, hand over your luggage to only authorized bus company employees/loaders. These usually wear uniforms and name tags.
- See where they have placed your luggage before you board
- If possible, travel in a group as a security precaution. Robbers/thieves usually attack loners
- Avoid travelling at night
- Carry along a first aid kit
- Have important contacts handy as well as emergency numbers for the police, ambulance service and hospitals