Just days to the official re-opening of the renovated Old Taxi Park, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has issued a route chart for taxis drivers and owners to follow while they offer transport services to Ugandans.
The route charts shall serve as authorising permits for taxis to enter the park as well as operate on designated routes.
However KCCA says it will endavour that not more than 344 taxis are allowed to enter the park at any particular time.
With thousands of taxis known to be operating from Kampala to other parts of the country, coupled with the lack of space for the rest of the taxis to wait from, the reopening will likely breed fights between law enforcement agents and taxi operators who will try to load from the streets.
During a closed door meeting with different groups of taxi operators, KCCA said it has earmarked just 27 stages to operate from the old park.
These will cater for passengers towards Jinja Road, Bombo Road and Kibuli Road.
Some of the stages include; Jinja, Busia, Bukasa, Bweyogerere, Mukono, Luzira and Ntinda-Nakawa which exit the Park through Burton Street. Also Gayaza stage, Mpererwe, Kawempe, Bwaise, Kulambiro and Namugongo stage whose taxis are supposed to exit the Park through Ben Kiwanuka Street.
Others are Kayunga-Bugerere and Mulago-Nsooba-Kitala-Taso stages which shall exit through Mackay Road.
According to the route chart, taxis heading to the Entebbe Road that had been moved to Usafi shall not return to the Old Taxi Park upon reopening on May 22.
Shortly after the meeting at City Hall today, KCCA Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka told Journalists that the intention of the meeting was to identify areas of concern in the park and forge a way forward.
She said the issue regarding a route chart featured prominently during the meeting as taxi operators wondered which taxis would operate in the 50- year old Park as it reopens.
On may 7 last year before commencement of renovation works, KCCA, working with the Ministry of Works and Transport issued temporary route charts to taxi operators which expired in December 2020.
Kisaka says they also discussed how to harmonize governance of the park amidst existence of multiple associations with the view to bringing the different factions under one umbrella body.
“We want to keep a close working relationship with stakeholders to ensure that the Park is well managed, government policies like taxes are respected and that there is order in the City,” she said.
Mustafa Mayambala, the Chairman of Uganda Transport Development Agency (UTRADA) says that they have agreed with KCCA that taxi operators form a committee that shall work with the authority to streamline issues of Park management.
Some of the issues at hand arise from the route chart which some members say has duplicate stages. For instance, there are three Mukono stages all going through Bweyogere, Namanve and Seeta something they say could cause conflict on these stages as operators struggle for passengers.
“I’m optimistic that when KCCA engages the conflicting groups in their planning, it shall aid smooth operations of the Park and promote order in the city,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gard Mugisha, the Chairman Taxi Owners Association has asked KCCA to ban all taxis operating in non-gazzetted areas like streets.
He says while some taxis operate in the park, others are left to wait for passengers on the streets, something that puts taxis in the parks at a disadvantage.
Meanwhile, KCCA is still in talks with the leadership of taxi operators to try and find a waiting area for taxis. The renovated park shall accommodate only 344 out of the 450 that were previously there. KCCA has therefore asked operators to identify a place to keep their taxis as they wait to access the Park.
KCCA also plans to introduce a digital system that enables only taxis whose turn it is to load passengers to come to the Park such that taxis do not congest the park waiting to load passengers.