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Are taxis defying the President's directive?

By Juliet Waiswa

Added 25th March 2020 08:05 PM

Commuter taxi operators loading and offloading outside the designated stages in the city are still loading three passengers per seat.

Commuter taxi operators loading and offloading outside the designated stages in the city are still loading three passengers per seat.

CORONAVIRUS 

Several commuter taxi drivers have defied the directive of spacing passengers in their vehicles.

Following President Yoweri Museveni's directive calling upon the public to stay home and minimize public transport, Police on Monday directed taxi operators across the country to slash the number of passengers from 14 to eight, citing the health ministry's standing operation procedures to curb the spread of Coronavirus.

"The Inspector-General of Police instructed the directorate of traffic to come up with a number of awareness guidelines including the safety of travel and sensitising the elderly with serious chronic conditions to avoid travel," Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson said during a press conference at Naguru police headquarters.

But commuter taxi operators loading and offloading outside the designated stages in the city are still loading three passengers per seat.

Stages of Nsambya, Namasuba, Salaam, Ndejje, Ntinda, Bweyogerere and most of the upcountry commuter taxis were loading 14 passengers per taxi.

The drivers claim that passengers are few on the roads, and if they have a chance, they load the 14 passengers.

This was the case in the parks of Usafi, Old and New Park, although some drivers on specific stages like Entebbe and Ntinda in the parks were carrying nine passengers.

At the Entebbe stage where the drivers have enforced spacing, they say passengers requested that they do sit two passengers per seat for their safety.

Passengers have decided to share taxi fares to avoid congestion and dangers in public transport where passengers sit together.

Yesterday at the Entebbe park, two passengers would share a seat at sh5,000 each and the taxis did not have conductors.

The Usafi Taxi Park chairperson, Charles Ntale, explains that they have not come out as drivers to agree on the fares but some passengers are requesting the special sitting arrangement.

Ntale warned the drivers against exorbitant hiking of transport fare.

"Passengers are travelling because they have different problems, do not overcharge them," he said.

The Chairman Uganda Transport Development Agency (UTRADA), Mustapha Mayambala, said they agreed that the two people on one seat share the money that would be paid by the third passenger. He explained that this means there should not be any increase in transport fare.

The drivers speak out

Mohammed Kasirye a driver on the Entebbe-Kampala route said drivers are also in danger because they always carry different passengers from different areas susceptible to coronavirus.

At bus parks however, the seating arrangement remained the same as the bus owners have a few passengers.

Goodluck Moses Nsereko, supervisor of Lira-bound at Namayiba park said that a  number of people have travelled back to the villages as they fear the high spread of coronavirus in the city.

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