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Passengers and taxi drivers manoeuvre through the potholes as they enter the Old Taxi Park on Thursday

Drivers , passenger risk lives as potholes eat up Old Taxi Park

Complaint. The taxi operators blame Kampala City Council Authority for delaying to renovate the Old Taxi Park
posted onMay 9, 2019
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It’s a Friday evening and passengers in the interminably busy Old Taxi Park are rushing to get taxis to various destinations. As is the routine, taxi touts are shouting at the top of their voices calling out passengers heading to different destinations. As I draw closer to the Kawempe stage, a taxi driver meticulously manoeuvers through the potholes in the park, but as he tries to negotiate a corner connecting to Luwum Street, the tyres of the vehicle get trapped in a big pothole, causing commotion as other drivers are blocked from proceeding. This attracts insults from fellow drivers calling him an ‘amateur’.

In response, Mr Kavuma as referred to by his fellow drivers tells his colleagues to back off and to direct their insults to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) for failing to renovate the park. Passengers on board are seen jeering while others are grumbling, cursing the recklessness of taxi drivers for taking people’s lives for granted. Pedestrians in the taxi park are making calculated and cautious steps while trying to dodge potholes that have engulfed the area. If by bad luck one stumbles, chances of falling are high. Looking around, some potholes are filled up with filth and stagnant water.

On a rainy day, the park becomes a no go area as the conditions worsen. Currently, the situation has caused uproar among passengers and taxi operators who say that using this park is risky to their lives. “I find it hard boarding at night as the whole park is gullied. This park should be renovated because it serves very many people,” says Rose Nansubuga, a fresh foods vendor in St Balikuddembe Market. Potholes are caused by both the heavy floods and the heavy weight of the traffic which tears apart the top surface, leaving openings.

In 2015, KCCA demolished all kiosks within and outside the Old Taxi Park to pave way for the renovation of the facility into what would be a multi-layer magnificent park. The taxi touts have since tasked the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to expedite its renovation before the situation gets worse. Mr Joseph Kiberu, a taxi driver who operates from Mbogo stage, says he is always in the garage to service the disjointed taxi parts, blaming it on heavy potholes. “My boss always asks why I frequently take the car to the garage. He has threatened to sack me if I don’t keep his car in good shape. It is really hard to maintain a vehicle in good shape while using such poor roads. KCCA should come to our rescue,” he says.

The chairperson of Uganda Transporters Development Agency (Utrada), Mr Mustafa Mayambala, accuses KCCA of turning a deaf ear to their plea of having the park renovated. Mr Mayambala says the numerous potholes in the park make the work of drivers difficult as their vehicles continue to break down. “We have forwarded this problem to the authorities but their pledge to have this park redeveloped has since remained a myth. We pay monthly road user fee to KCCA and one of the things this money could do is to upgrade our working environment so that we could operate without encountering such challenges. Our passengers are also at risk because these potholes expose them to danger,” he says.

Every taxi operating within the jurisdiction of KCCA pays a road user fee of Shs 120,000 per annum. This money, among others, is meant to renovate roads, taxi parks and other services. According to statistics from KCCA, there are approximately 14,000 taxis operating in the city, and these contribute Shs 1.5b revenue per annum. However, taxi drivers claim the money is not ploughed back to give their working places a new facelift. Although this park is supposed to accommodate only 8,000 taxis, Mr Mayambala says it is currently impossible because of a shortage of gazetted public parks. “The heavy traffic in this park is also one of the reasons for the increased number of potholes because the park accommodates more than its capacity,” he said. There are only three gazetted public parks and five private parks in the city. However, these don’t accommodate all the available taxis in the city, forcing them to operate from illegal stages. The public parks are: Old Taxi Park, New Taxi Park and Usafi Park. However, Usafi Taxi Park has since been abandoned by some drivers who argue that it has a low passenger turn up. The privately gazetted taxi parks are; Kisenyi, Namayiba, Nateete, Namirembe and KPI.

But taxi drivers argue that they are too expensive and as a result, they find themselves operating from illegal places. Information available to this newspaper shows that KCCA wants to construct a standard taxi park with multiple parkings surrounded by shops at the location of the Old Taxi Park. For instance, it’s currently redeveloping city roads and installing solar lights in the city. The other one is the construction of drainage channels in the city. KCCA’s budget for FY 2017/18 was slashed to only Shs347b and this might make it hard for them to embark on other pending projects. The Minister for Kampala Affairs, Ms Beti Olive Kamya, acknowledges the plight faced by taxi operators, among which she singled out few working spaces.

However, she says government is aware of their grievances and that the ministry of Kampala is working hard to ensure that their issues are addressed. “For instance, the Attorney General is currently finalizing the guidelines that will guide the elections of taxi operators and when this election exercise is done, the whole business will be streamlined,” she says. In July last year, KCCA banned 50 illegal stages that are used by taxi operators, citing commotion in the city. Some of the banned stages are; Miniprice, Shoprite, Namirembe Road, Constitutional square, Bank of Uganda, Clock Tower, Nakivubo Road among others. On January 11, Ms Kamya wrote to KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi, directing her to gazette more parks and stages in vain. When asked why her directive was ignored, Ms Kamya said that it’s only the elections of taxi operators that are holding creation of more parks and stages. But Mr Mayambala accuses the minister of using elections as an excuse, arguing the renovation of the the park has been pending for long, which he says must be worked on to enable taxi operators enjoy their work.

Key issues Poor roads. Mr Joseph Kiberu, a taxi driver in the old park , says their vehicles are always in bad shape as a result of bad roads and potholes in the park. Over crowding. There are only three gazetted public parks which do not accomodate all the taxis in the city. This has led to over crowding in the parks and forced some taxis to operate from illegal stages.

The taxi touts have since tasked the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to expedite its renovation before the situation gets worse. Mr Joseph Kiberu, a taxi driver who operates from Mbogo stage, says he is always in the garage to service the disjointed taxi parts, blaming it on heavy potholes. “My boss always asks why I frequently take the car to the garage. He has threatened to sack me if I don’t keep his car in good shape. It is really hard to maintain a vehicle in good shape while using such poor roads. KCCA should come to our rescue,” he says. The chairperson of Uganda Transporters Development Agency (Utrada), Mr Mustafa Mayambala, accuses KCCA of turning a deaf ear to their plea of having the park renovated. Mr Mayambala says the numerous potholes in the park make the work of drivers difficult as their vehicles continue to break down. “We have forwarded this problem to the authorities but their pledge to have this park redeveloped has since remained a myth. We pay monthly road user fee to KCCA and one of the things this money could do is to upgrade our working environment so that we could operate without encountering such challenges. Our passengers are also at risk because these potholes expose them to danger,” he says. Every taxi operating within the jurisdiction of KCCA pays a road user fee of Shs 120,000 per annum.

This money, among others, is meant to renovate roads, taxi parks and other services. According to statistics from KCCA, there are approximately 14,000 taxis operating in the city, and these contribute Shs 1.5b revenue per annum. However, taxi drivers claim the money is not ploughed back to give their working places a new facelift. Although this park is supposed to accommodate only 8,000 taxis, Mr Mayambala says it is currently impossible because of a shortage of gazetted public parks. “The heavy traffic in this park is also one of the reasons for the increased number of potholes because the park accommodates more than its capacity,” he said. There are only three gazetted public parks and five private parks in the city.

However, these don’t accommodate all the available taxis in the city, forcing them to operate from illegal stages. The public parks are: Old Taxi Park, New Taxi Park and Usafi Park. However, Usafi Taxi Park has since been abandoned by some drivers who argue that it has a low passenger turn up. The privately gazetted taxi parks are; Kisenyi, Namayiba, Nateete, Namirembe and KPI. But taxi drivers argue that they are too expensive and as a result, they find themselves operating from illegal places. Information available to this newspaper shows that KCCA wants to construct a standard taxi park with multiple parkings surrounded by shops at the location of the Old Taxi Park. For instance, it’s currently redeveloping city roads and installing solar lights in the city.

The other one is the construction of drainage channels in the city. KCCA’s budget for FY 2017/18 was slashed to only Shs347b and this might make it hard for them to embark on other pending projects. The Minister for Kampala Affairs, Ms Beti Olive Kamya, acknowledges the plight faced by taxi operators, among which she singled out few working spaces. However, she says government is aware of their grievances and that the ministry of Kampala is working hard to ensure that their issues are addressed. “For instance, the Attorney General is currently finalizing the guidelines that will guide the elections of taxi operators and when this election exercise is done, the whole business will be streamlined,” she says. In July last year, KCCA banned 50 illegal stages that are used by taxi operators, citing commotion in the city. Some of the banned stages are; Miniprice, Shoprite, Namirembe Road, Constitutional square, Bank of Uganda, Clock Tower, Nakivubo Road among others. On January 11, Ms Kamya wrote to KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi, directing her to gazette more parks and stages in vain. When asked why her directive was ignored, Ms Kamya said that it’s only the elections of taxi operators that are holding creation of more parks and stages. But Mr Mayambala accuses the minister of using elections as an excuse, arguing the renovation of the the park has been pending for long, which he says must be worked on to enable taxi operators enjoy their work. Key issues Poor roads. Mr Joseph Kiberu, a taxi driver in the old park , says their vehicles are always in bad shape as a result of bad roads and potholes in the park. Over crowding. There are only three gazetted public parks which do not accomo

When asked why her directive was ignored, Ms Kamya said that it’s only the elections of taxi operators that are holding creation of more parks and stages. But Mr Mayambala accuses the minister of using elections as an excuse, arguing the renovation of the the park has been pending for long, which he says must be worked on to enable taxi operators enjoy their work. Key issues Poor roads. Mr Joseph Kiberu, a taxi driver in the old park , says their vehicles are always in bad shape as a result of bad roads and potholes in the park. Over crowding. There are only three gazetted public parks which do not accomodate all the taxis in the city. This has led to over crowding in the parks and forced some taxis to operate from illegal stages.

However, these don’t accommodate all the available taxis in the city, forcing them to operate from illegal stages. The public parks are: Old Taxi Park, New Taxi Park and Usafi Park. However, Usafi Taxi Park has since been abandoned by some drivers who argue that it has a low passenger turn up. The privately gazetted taxi parks are; Kisenyi, Namayiba, Nateete, Namirembe and KPI. But taxi drivers argue that they are too expensive and as a result, they find themselves operating from illegal places. Information available to this newspaper shows that KCCA wants to construct a standard taxi park with multiple parkings surrounded by shops at the location of the Old Taxi Park. For instance, it’s currently redeveloping city roads and installing solar lights in the city. The other one is the construction of drainage channels in the city. KCCA’s budget for FY 2017/18 was slashed to only Shs347b and this might make it hard for them to embark on other pending projects. The Minister for Kampala Affairs, Ms Beti Olive Kamya, acknowledges the plight faced by taxi operators, among which she singled out few working spaces. However, she says government is aware of their grievances and that the ministry of Kampala is working hard to ensure that their issues are addressed. “For instance, the Attorney General is currently finalizing the guidelines that will guide the elections of taxi operators and when this election exercise is done, the whole business will be streamlined,” she says. In July last year, KCCA banned 50 illegal stages that are used by taxi operators, citing commotion in the city. Some of the banned stages are; Miniprice, Shoprite, Namirembe Road, Constitutional square, Bank of Uganda, Clock Tower, Nakivubo Road among others. On January 11, Ms Kamya wrote to KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi, directing her to gazette more parks and stages in vain. When asked why her directive was ignored, Ms Kamya said that it’s only the elections of taxi operators that are holding creation of more parks and stages.

But Mr Mayambala accuses the minister of using elections as an excuse, arguing the renovation of the the park has been pending for long, which he says must be worked on to enable taxi operators enjoy their work. Key issues Poor roads. Mr Joseph Kiberu, a taxi driver in the old park , says their vehicles are always in bad shape as a result of bad roads and potholes in the park. Over crowding. There are only three gazetted public parks which do not accomodate all the taxis in the city. This has led to over crowding in the parks and forced some taxis to operate from illegal stages.

Source: Daily Monitor

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