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Bus Operators Cheating Passengers Despite Abandoning COVID-19 Guidelines

Buses at Namayiba bus park.

Bus operators 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.

Some bus companies doubled their fares after the 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 buses and found them filled. Each passenger was required to pay the doubled fares introduced to cover the vacant seats.

Rolland Nkamwesiga, who was heading to Kabale from Kampala, says that the bus operators are crowding them on top of charging them exorbitantly. 

He says that before the lockdown buses to Kabale were charging them 25,000 Shillings but they doubled the fares to 50,000 Shillings.

Christopher Mubiru, another passenger says that he was nearly thrown out of the Jaguar bus after he questioned why they were flouting the covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Mubiru blames the enforcement teams, saying they have not taken continuous responsibility for impounding buses flouting the COVID-19 guidelines risking the lives of innocent people.

Marvin Kakinda who regularly plies the Kampala-Hoima route also notes that it is a common occurrence in most buses he boards.

David Byamukama, the Manager of Bizmarkan Coaches says that he is not aware that the buses are flouting the guidelines.

Henry Kato, the Link Bus Services Kampala Manager also refuted the allegations. He however says the buses could be loading half-capacity in the park and then pick other passengers in the middle of the journey.

Solomon Nsimire, the chairman of United Bus Drivers Association (UBOA) says it is difficult to force the operators to adhere to the guidelines. He wants the traffic police to intervene and impound the buses for flouting covid-19 guidelines.

The Public Relations Officer Traffic Directorate, Charles Sebambulide says that the public should help the police and identify the operators flouting the guidelines. He says that the public and police should work together to enforce the guidelines and that a joint effort is likely to be more efficient.

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