Passengers should learn to label their bags or items because many bags are similar, making it hard to differentiate the bags."
Many passengers do not know what to do or where to go when they forget their property in a taxi or bus.
They just believe that the property is always stolen by taxi operators and do not bother to trace it. A visit to the Old Taxi Park in Kampala offices revealed abandoned property worth millions of shillings stacked away in a corner.
According to Hajji Yusuf Nsiimbe, a driver on the Mbale-Malaba-Tororo route, most of the property is left behind by travellers on long distances.
He said this could be because most reach their destinations when they are tired, while others are parents with a lot of luggage and children. Nsiimbe says abandoned luggage and other items are collected and taken to their taxi offices in the destination parks.
The drivers leave information such as the route and if possible where the passenger was picked from. This is filled in a form and kept in the office to ease the identification of the property owners.
"In case of any lost property and the passengers gives the necessary information and the goods cannot be traced, we are forced to compensate them," explains Nsiimbe.
Where to find lost goods
Moses Mawejje Birungi, the public relations officer of the Kampala Operational Taxi Association (KOTSA), says KOTSA and the Kampala City Capital Authority (KCCA) have offices in every taxi park in Kampala.
He said their drivers are trained to take lost property to these offices. "When lost property is brought to our offices, we ask the drivers to tell us their route and the time of leaving the park from which they picked the passenger and when they arrived in Kampala," explains Mawejje.
The items from the different parks are collected after one week and taken to a bigger office they share with KCCA. This office is located in the New Taxi Park, where all items are kept, awaiting claims from the owners.
"The biggest challenge is that when these people forget their goods and documents like passports, identity cards, driving permits, ATM cards, they don't come to claim them because they assume they are stolen.
But we don't have enough space to keep them for months. As I speak now, the KCCA office is flooded with lost property," he notes.
Mawejje clarifies that passengers should pick taxis in officially gazetted areas because in case of losing property, the taxi can be traced through the time of boarding, the stage of boarding and its destination.
Old people and children
Mawejje advises the public to record the details of the taxis on which they put their aged people and children.
He says it is useful to record the number plate, the time of departure and the driver or conductor's phone number in case their loved are lost.
"Most of the abandoned items are stolen by fellow passengers. When they see any lost property, they immediately claim it is theirs," Mawejje notes.
Final destination of lost goods Mawejje says when the KCCA office is full, the items are taken to the Kampala Central Police Station (CPS) community liaison office and are later auctioned off.
"I once ordered that these goods be taken to the community liaison office then headed by Anatori Muleterwa. But for some time now, we have not taken any lost items there," reveals Mawejje.
However, the new head of the community liaison office, Fred Imaset, denied on phone that any lost property was taken to his office since he took over. Muleterwa also denied claims that the goods were taken to the office when he was in charge and auctioned.
Where perishables are taken
"These perishables cannot be kept for long . We keep them for two only days before we give them to the needy," said Mawejje.
"We do not charge the owner for the recovery of their property unless you are contacted through phone and the goods are loaded and brought to you. In this case, you pay a taxi fee that is not above sh5,000," he reveals.
According to Nsiimbe, a passenger should inform the conductor to remind them of their property if it is in the boot.
"Passengers should learn to label their bags or items because many bags are similar, making it hard to differentiate the bags. Some passengers take wrong bags accidentally just because they are similar," Nsiimbe warned.
Abandoned items at the KCCA offices
- 7 mattresses
- Over 100 suitcases
- Over 10 plastic bags (locally known as Osofia)
- Over 7 sacks with clothes
- 50kg bag of poultry feeds
- 1 box of Implanon 68mg implant (MSIU Mubende) O/R
- 1 box of Weed Master
- 1 clutch bag
- 13 National Identity cards
- 5 passport books
- 3 ATM cards
- 1 driving permit
- 5 school identicty cards
- 2 voter's identity cards
- 7 school bags
NB: These were just a few of the recovered items. All the items could not be counted from the huge pile in the office.