Passengers sitted in Awakula Ennume Bus heading to Kawempe, a Kampala suburb. Courtesy photo

Some bus operators within the Kampala suburbs are still charging high transport fares despite abandoning the Standard Operating Procedures-SOPs issued by the Health Ministry to halt the transmission of the coronavirus. 

The transport fares doubled after Ministry of health directed transporters to carry half of their licensed capacity to ensure social distancing to minimize COVID-19 transmission.

Our reporter recently sampled some of the city bus transporters such as Awakula Ennume and Star Bus and found them filled to capacity. Each passenger was required to pay the doubled fares that introduced to cover for the vacant seats.

Simon Kaheru, a passenger who was heading to Kawempe in Awakula Ennume bus grumbled that bus operators are crowding them on top of charging them exorbitantly. 

Kaheru explained that before the lockdown buses were charging them UGX1,000 but doubled the fare to UGX2,000 to compensate for the vacant seat because of the reduced capacity.  

Baker Sekitto, another passenger who was travelling from Kampala to Butabika in Pioneer bus that loads at City Square, says the buses load half-capacity at the stage and then pick other passengers in the middle of the journey. 

Sarah Nakakande, another passenger who was heading to Gayaza put the blame on the enforcement teams, saying they have not taken continuous responsibility of impounding buses and taxis flouting the COVID-19 guidelines risking the lives of innocent people.

“Not only social distancing but also buses were required to be fumigated before and after every journey, washing of hands at the entrance, which is not the case. Public means were also required to take the traveller’s temperatures and record it down, which is not the case in town,” she said.     

Luke Oweyesigyire, the Kampala Metropolitan Police Deputy Police Spokesperson noted that they have impounded several vehicles for flouting covid-19 guidelines but cannot force people to adhere to the guidelines. 

He advised passengers to look for other means of transport once they find a bus or taxi filled to capacity to protect their lives.   

William Katumba, the Chairperson of Uganda Taxi and Drivers Association-UTODA sounded surprised about the news that town service buses are flouting COVID-19 guidelines. 

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