Mbale Taxi Drivers Disassociate Themselves From Strike

2915 Views Mbale, Eastern Region, Uganda

In short
The Mbale Taxi and Bus Drivers and Conductors Association has disassociated itself from the strike by drivers that paralyzed transport in most parts of eastern region on Monday.

The Mbale Taxi and Bus Drivers and Conductors Association has disassociated itself from the strike by drivers that paralyzed transport in most parts of eastern region on Monday.
The Monday’s strike by drivers from mainly Busoga region stemmed from a meeting of the leaders of the drivers’ association from Mbale, Jinja, Busia and Iganga districts last Friday at Jinja Town hall in which they resolved to protest the recent traffic laws that came in force.
Among them are fines in the revised express penalty scheme, fitting reflectors, undergoing special driving tests and obtaining badges among others.
Several passengers were injured in the strike after the rowdy drivers and conductors who accused some drivers of betraying their cause stoned their buses and taxis that were found transporting passengers.
Buses belonging to YY Coach Company, Elgon Flyers and Teso Coach Bus Company among others that were plying through Mbale - Jinja - Kampala Highway were waylaid and attacked and their windscreens destroyed.
The incident forced police from Mbale to deploy at least two officers to escort each bus that was travelling to Kampala through Jinja.
On Tuesday, the situation improved after the drivers from Jinja and Busia called off the strike leaving only those from Iganga and Kamuli still intent on the strike.
Moses Wauyo, the chairperson Mbale Taxi and Bus and Conductors Association, says whereas they do not Condon the new traffic laws, they are not part of the Monday’s strike.
Wauyo says they refused to follow their counterparts from Jinja in the strike after the drivers from Busoga region also shunned the recent strike pronounced by drivers in Jinja two weeks ago. He also claims that drivers from Busoga announced the strike before they agreed on some issues.
He claims that they had resolved to first meet the traffic police officials and the Ministry of Works and Transport officials to present their grievances for consideration.
Wauyo says they will go back to the drawing table to plan for another strike.
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Whereas some taxi and bus drivers have resumed work, many have decided to park their vehicles and monitor the situation from home for fear of being attacked by the protesters.
Benjamin Ssepuya, a driver of a taxi number UAP113Q, which operates along the Kampala-Mbale-Malaba route says even the few drivers who are operating, keep making phone calls to their colleagues on the road to avoid being ambushed by the protesters. He says that drivers in Kampala are considering joining the strike because of the exorbitant fines.
Joshua Makayi, the Manager Elgon Flyers Bus Company says  he has not had incidents with any of their buses playing from Mbale through Jinja to Kampala have reached safely. He says their business have resumed to normal operations.
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The express penalty scheme came into force two weeks ago. It was introduced by the Ministry Works in 2002 under the Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998.
Under the scheme, a person that commits a minor traffic offense is not taken to court but fined. Subsequently, a suspect is issued with a ticket bearing the fine levied and thereafter the suspect is expected to pay the fine in the bank.
But the drivers say they are dissatisfied with the new scheme, and want government to revise it. They say the fines in the express penalty scheme are too harsh, exorbitant, and could force many of them out of business. Some of them accuse the police of attempting to extort money from them using the new regulations.
They maintain that their strike will continue as long as it takes for government to strike a compromise with them on the fines in the express penalty scheme.


About the author

Denis Olaka
Denis Olaka is the URN bureau chief for Lira, in northern Uganda. Apac and Otuke fall under his docket. Olaka has been a URN staff member since 2011.

Olaka started his journalism career in 2000 as a news reporter, anchor, and then editor for Radio Lira in Lira district. He was subsequently an editor with Lira's Radio Wa in 2004 and Gulu district's Mega FM.

He was also a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers.

Olaka's journalism focuses on politics, health, agriculture and education. He does a lot of crime reporting too.