Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Uganda's Public Transport Still Stinks

The typical Kampala public transport users have neither voice nor partners in government (both local and central), their elected legislators and the parties licenced to provide it. They have to endure immeasurable levels of stress and torment getting to work in the morning, through a hard working and thankless day at work (or hospital or market, e.t.c) and then again in the evenings. The source of a bulk of this stress is from the providers of public transport which is overpriced and inadequate. What they have to do to finally get a voice is a puzzle.

They cannot die so that the report into their death can take twenty years to be released. Nor can they get themselves arrested for treason and be denied bail. The whole estimated one and a half million of them certainly cannot all be beneficiaries of the eleven plots at the taxi park to attract a petition to parliament to set up a whole committee to look into their issues. Even if many would like to take the route that Alice Lakwena, Joseph Kony and some of our politicians have taken to get someone’s attention, the typical public transport users love their country too much to let it slip back into the chaos they have witnessed. Besides that would be too much trouble to go through when they have elected leaders, wouldn’t it? I thought that a story in The New Vision on passengers who almost destroyed a taxi at the taxi park for what they felt was injustice could have acted as a signal of discontent but somehow it has been ignored.

The passenger community no longer has any faith in a toothless UTODA top dog, Mr. Ndyomugyenyi, who has time and again given them the false impression that his word counts for something yet it is totally worthless. At the risk of sounding like I am making threats, I must warn whoever has the duty of regulating and protecting passengers, either through elections or appointment that the avenues for venting out frustrations are running out fast and we may all be sitting on a time bomb. All they want is an atmosphere that is fair and just and allows them to earn a living and provide for their families a well as they possibly can. That is the main reason why they queue up under the hot sun, in the chilling cold and rain or in dusty air so that they can vote at elections. Is what they are crying for undeserving and too much? Each political party needs about five million votes to win an election. If parties did their maths, even with very little effort, they would find that it is the passengers that can deliver that number. So why are public transport providers treated as the sacred cow?