Friday, March 30, 2007

Uganda Needs a Public Transport Authority

‘UTODA Prepares for CHOGM’ was a headline in The New Vision of March 27th and that is the only part of the story I read. I have learnt not to go any further with stories of UTODA in the newspapers. Many times announcements are made by this unpopular private public service provider and the newspapers are kind enough to publish them only for them to turn out to be hollow. So now, to me at least, UTODA is like the proverbial little boy who cried ‘wolf!’.

I believe that the organisation lacks a professional public relations mechanism within its operations. Someone once wrote that it should be applauded for employing a big number of musomo gwalema (personnel with little or no education). There is, however, absolutely no reason why UTODA should exhibit that in the way it is run. All of this would be solved if government formed a autonomous Public Transport Authority. The President has said that we should stop chasing demand and start planning for it instead. I believe that this should be the same in the public transport sector. The Licencing Board of the Department of Transport has its bureaucratic limitations, whose most evident product is the quality of taxis, their drivers and conductors and the setting of fares. Autonomous authorities have plugged similar weaknesses in other sectors especially when it comes to ensuring that policies are implemented.