Travel Restrictions Hit Hard Taxi, Bus Operators Along Fort Portal-Kampala Highway

Public transport operators along the Fort Portal-Kampala highway are counting losses following the travel restrictions that were imposed on Mubende and Kassanda districts.

On Saturday, President Museveni issued directives restricting movements in and out of the Mubende and Kassanda districts for 21 days. The President said that people from other districts will be allowed to transit with clearance of security and shall not stop to pick up, offload passengers, or fuel vehicles in Mubende.

The restrictions have affected taxi and bus operators who ply the highway. The taxis and buses make stopovers in Mubende to drop off passengers and pick up passengers traveling to Kampala.

Tom Baalya, the Baby Coaches Fort Portal Terminal Manager, says that before the lockdown was imposed, the buses would leave Fort Portal at half capacity, stop in Mubende and pick up more passengers heading to Kampala.

Baalya adds that following the presidential directives, some passengers also fear traveling, which has reduced the number of their customers. According to Baalya, six buses would travel to Kampala but on Monday only three buses were able to go.

At the Link Bus Terminal in Fort Portal City, Joseph Isingoma, the terminal manager says that the company has an office in Mubende and their buses would make a stopover to pick up passengers from different destinations to Kampala.

He says that passengers from the neighboring districts of Kagadi, Kakumiro, and others would converge at the Mubende Office where the bus from Fort Portal would pick them up to Kampala.

Isingoma says that even when the bus leaves Fort Portal half empty, it would be filled up in Mubende.

Wilson Ssalongo a taxi driver plying the Fort Portal- Kampala route says that their business has been badly affected by the lockdown because the taxis would go picking up and dropping passengers between Mubende and Mityana but with the new directives they can no longer get passengers.

Ssalongo adds that Mubende town has been the busiest stage where they would drop passengers and pick up others that are continuing to Kampala.

“Yesterday I put fuel of 500,000 Shillings but most passengers I had were stopping in Kyegegwa.  The whole journey from Kyegegwa to Kampala I had only five passengers whose money would not even cover half of the fuel costs. We are just making losses.” Ssalongo said.

Michael Igga another among taxi operators says that the majority of his passengers were stopping in Mubende and he would pick up other passengers in Kampala. Iga says that he has been forced to set off from Fort Portal at full capacity because he will not get passengers in Mubende.

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