Commissioner of transport rallies taxi operators to form a national association

The commissioner in charge of transport, regulation, and safety, under the Ministry of Works and Transport, Winston Katushabe, has appealed to taxi operators to form a national body to address issues related to the taxi industry.

Katushabe made this remark while guiding taxi owners, drivers, and conductors operating in Mbarara, Bushenyi, and Ntungamo on how to formulate the constitution that will regulate them to elect the national leadership.

He said the proposed national taxi association is a presidential directive issued in 2018 as a result of a number of challenges affecting the taxi industry.

“This meeting is a result of the earlier directives issued by the president that; all taxi operators must form one body. This will enable them to have one voice while engaging with the government so that their concerns are addressed as a group on matters regarding the industry,” said Katushabe

He also said, most times tax operators engage in numerous fights because of leadership wrangles that must be addressed by the apex body.

“Findings show that there were many factions within the taxi industry which led to fights and harassment. We also witnessed that there was also a lot of extortion of money from the operators including the collected fees as a result of improper leadership,” He emphasized

Katushabe also said, by registering and forming an apex body, buses and boda-boda will follow suit so as to reorganize the transport sector in Uganda.

“We’ve started with the taxi industry but we are also moving to the boda-bodas to organize the transport industry,” He said

The commissioner concluded by saying that the formation of the taxi operators’ association will give birth to a national SACCO and the government is willing to support it.

“Mbarara Taxi Operators gave us good insights into the draft constitution and we shall integrate their views such that they are able to hold elections by 2022. Thereafter, they will have an apex body to address concerns of the industry at the national level and also be able to form a national SACO to boost their financial capacity,” Katushabe said.

Robert Beyagira, the Chairperson of the South Western Union Taxi Transporters Association [SWTODA] appealed to the Ministry to grant them enough time before approving the draft constitution.

“We were notified on short notice, yet we are leaders representing a number of our colleagues who have not attended this meeting. This means we shall be grilled if we don’t get back to them to agree on what to include in this constitution. It’s not just a matter of signing, we need to sign what all members in the taxi industry understand” Beyagira said.

I also advocate for a change of some of the clauses in the draft constitution like a five-year term of office to be dropped to at least three years.

Besides, any eligible taxi owner must be allowed to lead the association instead of the assertion that a person must have at least 10 taxis to be able to lead the Association, demanded Beyagira.

Aaron Kwikiriza, the Secretary of SWTODA, welcomed the government’s proposal to constitute a legal Association that will be mandated with representing taxi operators and the taxi park-related business.

“Under a national umbrella, our hope is to restore sanity and develop the taxi industry. All these mushrooming associations are a result of internal conflicts. Whenever there is a disagreement, others register and form another association,” says Kwikiriza.

While presiding over the consultative meeting, Lt Col James Mwesigye, the Resident City Commissioner [RCC] Mbarara warned the Ministry of Works to focus on the regional balance of the taxi representation at the national level to prevent any fracas from the taxi operators.

“You have always favored people from Kampala but this time we are not going to accept. They form committees where you will find the Chairman is from Kampala, Treasurer-Kampala, Secretary-Kampala; why always Kampala? This time around, we are not just by passers but we also need effective representation” Mwesigye emphasized.

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