Christmas is around the corner. It is usually the time at least many people plan to travel up-country for the holidays.
“It has been over three years since I last visited my mother and some uncles in the village. It is not that I am broke it’s about my tight work schedules. But now that I have got some time off work, I am going to travel to Lyantonde and spend the festive season with my mother and other relatives. I also want them to know my family,” says Raymond Mugisha, a friend and a business man in Mukono.
Just like Mugisha, people are anxiously preparing to leave the noisy city. They are actually planning on when and how to travel to the different parts of the country.
Before, passengers only knew about the Baganda Bus Park and new taxi park as the easiest places to find vehicles to their various destinations but after the city renovation, some buses and taxis were shifted to different places like Kisenyi, Nakivubo among others. So, apart from hiring a boda boda or a potter to carry your luggage to a particular park, have you thought of how the situation will be this time round and how much you’re going to be charged to reach your destination? When is your travel date?
Increase in fare
George Barongo, the operations manager Kalita Transporter limited says the fact that ever since buses were banned from making return journeys, vehicles have become scarce and this has already affected the fares to the higher side. The ever flooding number of passengers day by day is another factor.
“You find that buses that leave Kampala never return like it was before and those that come from upcountry can’t be used till the next day, meaning we have to hike the fares to compensate for that loss with many passengers that flood the park,” he notes.
The other factor Barongo points out that has led to an increase in transport fares this season is about driving empty buses back to Kampala yet the vehicles have to be fueled and serviced at the same time. “It is not that we just want to increase the fares but it is because there are usually less or no people travelling back from the villages within this period. And at the same time, we are not allowed to go out of the regulated chart routes to pick passengers from other parts of the country where we are not authorised to work from or even pass,” he explains.
Best time to travel
Apart from the Nairobi route whose fares that are still constant at Shs60,000, Barongo reveals that other upcountry route fares have already been increased and they are bound to double as Christmas draws crosser. Kampala- Kasese-Bwera-Kabale stands at Shs35,000 but expected to raise to Shs50,000. Fort portal-Kyenjojo is at Shs30,000 but expected to raise to Shs45,000.
However, given the congestion in most parks, Barongo aises travellers to use the early morning buses. This will at least help them travel at a fair price as compared to those traveling in the evening when the whole park is congested. “Remember also the number of travellers determine the charges,” he says.
In the same way, Jamilah Birungi, a booking clerk with Gate Way Services attribute the hike in transport fares to the shortage in buses due to the laid traffic rule and the number of passengers travelling at a given period of time.
The different changes in fare
“Although fares would be increased around this period, the situation was relatively okay given the fact that a number of buses would leave at the same time.
“But now, there is bound to be a shortage of buses but with many passengers thus increasing fares. Sometimes, we are forced to squeeze passengers because we have no extra bus to use yet they all want to leave.
Gate Way bus fares have been increased depending on one’s destination like to Kabale, for example, it has increased from Shs25,000 to Shs50,000 and expected to raise to Shs80,000, Kisoro from between Shs25,000-Shs30,000 and Shs40,000 yet expected to raise between to Shs50,000 to Shs80,000 towards Christmas. Other routes like Moroto have increased from Shs40,000 to Shs55,000, Kotido, Shs45,000 to Shs50,000, and Tororo Shs13,000 to Shs20,000.
Savana Coaches whose routes are to Mbarara, Ntungamo, Kanungu and Kihihi have also increased the fares. Mbarara has increased from Shs15,000 to Shs30,000 and is expected to raise to Shs50,000 Fare to Ntungamo has risen from Shs25,000 to Shs45000 but is expected to increase to Shs60,000. To travel to Kanungu, the price has increased from Shs30,000 to Shs50,000 and is expected to raise to Shs70,000. The fare to Kihihi has come from Shs60,000 to Shs80,000, Didus Kamugisha, the company transport guide highlights.
However, as most bus owners hike the fares because of the over whelming number of passengers travelling at the same time, Abdul Kigozi, the manager Otada Coaches does not intend to increase the fares from Shs25,000 since there are a few people travelling on the Lira- Gulu route and does not expect the number to increase either even two or a day to Christmas.
Long route taxis
For the long route taxi operators, fares will only increase by Shs5,000 or Shs7,000 because of the scarcity of passengers. It takes between one and half hours for a taxi to get full which used not happen in the past years, according to Edward Kyeyune, a driver, Masindi- Kafu stage in the new taxi park. He attributes the increment to the number of passengers in the park on a particular day. For example the Mbarara-Lyantonde-Rushere fare may increase from Shs15,000 to Shs25,000 depending on the destination just as Masaka -Kyotera –Mutukula where fares here range from Shs13,000 to Shs20,000.
However, the highly increased transport fares are expected to go down after the festive season, according to most taxi and bus drivers.
Meanwhile, Kyeyune aises all travellers to be vigilant because of the insecurity t around this period. “Take note of what you have moved with and also try to move during the day to reduce the risks of being robbed by thugs,” he cautions.
The amount people travelling to Kabale are likely to pay for a bus ticket by next week
The amount people travelling to Tororo are likely to pay for a bus ticket during the festive season
the amount people travelling on the Lira-Arua route are likely to pay during the festive season
SOURCE: Daily Monitor