A fuel shortage in Fort Portal town has left hundreds of students who intended to travel to school for the opening of the term today, stranded.
Over the weekend all major fuel stations in Fort Portal run out of supplies. Those with fuel, like Shell Kabarole, are reserving it for their major customers.
Public transport operators have taken advantage of the shortage to double their fares. Students traveling to schools in Kampala, Mbarara and Kasese were forced to return home to ask for more money from their already hard-pressed parents.
Bus fares from Fort Portal to Kampala have risen from 10,000 shillings to 18,000 shillings, while a trip from Fort Portal to Kasese is up to 7,000 shillings from 4,000 shillings. The fares to Mbarara have increased by 5,000 shillings to 20,000 for a single journey.
In the bus and taxi parks, groups of parents gathered to attempt to force the transport prices down.
Michael Kasujja was taking his three daughters to school in Mbarara. He said he could not afford to pay 80,000 shillings to transport them, considering all the money spent on school fees and supplies. He said it was unfair for the public transport operators to take advantage of their passengers at this crucial time.
//Cue in: iTransporters are unfair #i
Cue out: i# back to school.i//
Many students were unsure of whether they would make it to school in time.
Sylvia Kahunde, a student from Mary Hill School, said it was unlikely that she would be granted entry into the school after 5 p.m. By midday she had not yet found a bus or taxi, within her price range.
//Cue in: iWe are supposed #i
Cue out: i# closed the gate.i//
Boda-boda cyclists in Fort Portal have also hiked their fares by about 1,500 shillings.
None of the fuel station owners could explain the sudden shortage of fuel in the town.