KAMPALA – Government has defended its decision to put an end to individual ownership of public transport saying the move is aimed at streamlining the transport sector.
In a statement to Parliament by Aggrey Bagiire, State Minister for Transport told Parliament that Uganda is not the first to take this direction in organising public transport, citing Kenya he says had similar challenges but organised its public transport operators into transport SACCOS and Cooperatives to address these challenges describing the move as a global best practice to achieve high efficiency and economies of scale.
Minister Bagiire said, “The benefits associated with the amendment include allowing for reliable transport services as the operators can schedule the motor vehicles according to the agreed key performance indicators; access to quality public transport services on all routes (both lucrative and less lucrative); improved vehicle fleet; improved profitability for the operators due to reduced cost of doing business; and a reduction in accidents involving public transport vehicles.”
Government’s statement was in response to a question posed by Betty Nambooze (Mukono Municipality) following media reports on plans to phase out sole ownership of mini-buses in favour of group ownership as highlighted in the Traffic and Road Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that is under scrutiny by the Physical Infrastructure Committee.
He said that the proposed amendment will not phase out individual ownership of minibuses but will require the individual service providers to operate within the proposed companies, registered associations, partnerships or Cooperatives or Savings and Credit Societies (SACCOS).
The Minister called on Parliament to embrace the proposal arguing that it will improve the shift from use of private vehicles to public transport and resultantly lead to reduction in congestion and its attendant challenges and denied claims it is targeting taxis, saying it will cut across all public transport systems.
He said that Government’s decision followed vices in the current public transport system characterised by competition on the road between the different means of transport which neither benefits the operators nor the travelling public which has led to wasteful competition characterised by price undercutting, reckless driving as operators compete for passengers and violence; unscheduled trips; cut-throat competition on the lucrative routes and inadequate transport services on the less lucrative routes; wrangles between operators which often turn violent.
Bagiire said, “The current system hos also affected operators who often cease business due to high operating costs and low profitability. This has mode public transport services unsustainable; unattractive and a very risky investment venture. The rationale for the proposal is to streamline operations of public transport to reduce wasteful competition and ensure efficient, reliable and sustainable transport services in the Country.”