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Talk of ‘Steady Progress’: a stale joke

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Talk of ‘Steady Progress’: a stale joke

Consider having to travel in a matatu!

Travelling by taxi

Travelling by taxi

If it is not yet full of passengers, and it is standing, or has stopped at a stage to take in more travelers, the conductor may tell the driver to go forward, or vice versa. The conductor will be holding the door to the cabin open while from his seat by it, looking out for any intending traveler. The driver on his part will be poking his head out and looking backwards as the taxi is moving forward!

Outside the matatu, a “broker” is calling out the destinations of the taxi, while irritatingly banging at its side. If a traveler appears, the driver will then stop to take him or her in. As the driver starts to move forward, the broker bangs the side of the matatu; and tells the conductor to stop or wait, indicating that another intending passenger is coming. The conductor may be doing the same.

The conductor will then shut the door. Now, he wriggles his torso out of the window of the cabin door, standing in and looking out atop the matatu for another indicated traveler. The driver now reverses the matatu; and if there is no passenger, stops and/or again goes forward.

Depending on the appearance of the intending travelers, this scenario can be repeated a number of times, until the matatu fills up with the travelers. Do not consider the time wasted! These days, from the outskirts of Kampala, like Mukono, Kawempe, Nateete, etc., into the center of the city takes roughly two hours on the clogged roads and streets.

It is estimated that 2.5 million people travel to Kampala everyday to work; that number multiplied by the two hours comes to five million wasted hours daily.

Assuming each person is taxed UGX 100 from the profits of that time of work everyday that will translate to  UGX 500 million. Yearly, that would put a colossal amount of money into the national treasury – that is, if one removed this one transportation sector bottleneck!

Precently, the Parliamentary Finance Committee is tussling with the Minister of State for Finance, David Bahati, of taxing Sim cards, increasing the price of fuel and ratcheting up the charges on agricultural produce, as a claim of taxing citizens from personal profits accruing from these economic activities.

He and his Ministry of Finance colleagues are not considering and taking a hard statistical look at the wastages and inadequacies that the country is incurring from bungled non-planning.

The regime oligarchs, apparatchiks, hangers-on and sycophants constantly sermonize the citizens about the steady progress the country is experiencing. They posit false figures about the performance of the economy for the achievement of he imagined middle income status for all the people.

They often announce the promise of impending development projects, never announcing their completion.  If there are half-hearted completions, they are more than ever, botched. It gets down to promises, other promises and more promises!

Bahati has been saying that the tax money being raised is intended for infrastructure development; there is talk of the “oil  roads”, yet other roads in the countryside are almost, if not impassable – thanks to the excuse of the present rains! This has been going on for more than 20 years of the 32 years of the lifetime of the regime.

Often reference is made to China and the Asian Tiger economies, developing in a period of two decades, and it is gleefully forgotten that the NRM regime has exceeded that time frame by more than a decade.

So, if there is “Steady Progress”, where is the indication for it? The argument is that one progresses from a point of inadequacy to that of a reasonable acquisition; but even by the regime’s own statistics, this is sorely lacking.

Previous “backward” regimes had Five Year Development Plans; and there were indications that there was something to show for them. The “enlightened” NRM regime has ignored this precept, to the chagrin of “these Ugandans”.

The conclusion is that: it is not happening! The example in the matatu taxi transport sector is very appropriate. If at all, the economy is going forward and backward, simply revolving on the same spot, while wasting valuable time to reach the destination in what would-be the planned and anticipated time.

szumuz@yahoo.com

 

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