Last month, taxi drivers held an election to choose a leader for all taxi operators.
The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) had wanted to stop the poll, but the police chief, Gen Kale Kayihura, insisted that the election should proceed and even provided security for the highly-charged vote at Nakivubo stadium. The November 10 election brought Mustapha Mayambala into office as head of all taxi drivers in Kampala, but in a statement following the poll, KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi declared that the election had not been endorsed by the Electoral Commission and was therefore illegal.
Mayambala, who had insisted that his poll was genuine, had pledged to work with the KCCA-backed William Katumba, who came a distant second. Mayambala says he has the support of the police chief. Unsatisfied with the result, KCCA instead called for fresh polls to be held on November 29, which eventually did not happen.
Now, a fresh statement from the KCCA says the poll has been postponed indefinitely, pending consultations with the minister for Kampala, Frank Tumwebaze. Behind the scenes, officials close to Mayambala say he has been courting officials of KCCA and the Taxi ParksStages Coordinating Committee (Tapscom) for support. Now, after at least two meetings, there is a working relationship between them.
Tapscom was introduced by KCCA last year to collect revenue and operate taxi parks on KCCA’s behalf, in place of the Uganda Taxi Operators’ and Drivers’ Association (Utoda). Contacted for a comment, Mayambala told The Observer that some Tapscom officials who lost the election were still fighting him.
“I want to bring all these people together so that people recognise our job as taxi drivers. If we are not organised and not working with the relevant authorities like KCCA, we shall continue fighting each other,” Mayambala said.
Following the postponement of the polls, Mayambala will be formally touring the taxi parks from today [Monday].
Three months earlier, taxi drivers called a strike, after KCCA refused to meet them over their monthly fee of Shs 120,000, among other issues. Concerned at the treatment, they petitioned Minister Tumwebaze and KCCA under their National Unions of Drivers, Cyclists and Allied Workers (NUDCAW) to stop the Tapscom operations.
One taxi driver who requested anonymity, accused Tapscom officials of extorting money from drivers.
“Every stop you make on a stage, Tapscom officials ask you to pay money depending on the number of passengers collected. They will never give you a receipt but ask for money all day,” this taxi driver said.
The strike, which paralysed traffic in the city for a few hours, only ended at the intervention of Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura on August 25, 2014 at the police headquarters in Naguru. During the meeting, the drivers (united as Uganda Transport Development Agency – UTRADA) accused the Tapscom officials of impounding their vehicles and soliciting money from their conductors on all the stages reached.
The taxi drivers also complained that the Tapscom group was unlawful and did not participate in any election that was set up by KCCA. Tapscom officials denied all the allegations.
“In the new park, no one is complaining about Tapscom. Why are you complaining about us?” a Tapscom official reportedly asked.
However, NUDCAW’s Abdullah Kitatta backed the UTRADA group, accusing Tapscom officials of being illegal. The Tapscom officials insisted that they were known to Kampala Resident City Commissioner Aisha Kabanda, and had presented photos of their elections to Gen Kayihura.
Matters took a new twist when the then Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, aised that Tapscom should step down and leave the Police and KCCA to run the city transport system, in preparation for a fresh election of leaders of all taxi drivers.
Despite some concerns, Gen Kayihura backed Kaweesi’s suggestion and the elections were set to be held within a month. All drivers who had been arrested at the instigation of Tapscom were ordered released ahead of the polls.
Source : The Observer