Stakeholders in the public transport system have expressed conflicting views to the latest government plan to streamline public transport in the country.
Early this week, the State Minister for Local government Jennifer Namuyangu announced new charges that government has introduced for the different categories of public service vehicles (PSVs).
The taxes which take immediate effect will see city commuter taxis pay UGX720,000 per year. For taxis that ply routes connecting two urban municipalities, will pay UGX840,000 per year which revenue will be shared on a 40:60 ratio for origin and destination respectively.
Buses will pay UGX2.4m per year which will also be shared equally between all the authorities on the Route Charts.
But the latest measures have attracted different reactions from across the stakeholders.
Taxi operators under their umbrella body the Kampala Operational Taxi Stage Association (KOTISA) cautiously welcomed the latest government plan saying it legalizes their business since they will be paying taxes to government.
Hajj Yasin Ssematimba, the Chairman of KOTISA told The Sunrise that they are happy that government has endorsed their work, as opposed to previously when they were uncertain of their future regarding their role in public transport.
But Ssematimba noted that the arrangement has a lot to be desired. He criticized the consolidation of taxes as an annual fee as opposed to the monthly arrangement that KOTISA had proposed.
He said: “The annual tax is unfavorable for most taxi operators. You can find that only about 5% of the taxis are able to pay this money in one lump-sum.
Ssematimba also criticized the ban on welfare fees, which he said is a voluntary arrangement between the drivers.
Although the government promised to introduce New Park User Fees (PUFs) that shall be collected by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and remitted to the Treasury Holding Account in Bank of Uganda (BOU), this measure is silent on privately owned parks.
Ssematimba says this is a major oversight that government will have to urgently address since most parks are privately owned and delays in resolving the matter could interfere with public transport.
Cabinet has abolished the paying of multiple fees, taxes and tenders in parks and un-gazetted stages by taxi and bus operators.
Over 34000 taxis and 960 buses will make payments to URA through the E-tax system where URA will also share performance reports on a monthly basis with the office of the Accountant General and the Ministry of Local government
The Ministry of Works and Transport will be mandated to issue PSV license stickers with fixed routes indicating point of origin and destination with no mid-way changes of routes for all commercial passengers’ vehicles across the country.
The ministry of Works and Transport will ensure that payment of park user fees and Advance Income tax has been fully paid via the URA portal before issuing PSV licenses and organize elections.
The government has also taken upon it the responsibility to organize elections for all taxi drivers on the basis of the stage being the elective constituency represented by one driver and conductor.