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Lockdown Scare: Bus Fares Hiked as Many Rush to Leave Kampala

Long-distance bus fares have doubled as people flock the bus stations to travel upcountry. This follows the Sunday night announcement by President Yoweri Museveni, of new COVID-19 containment measures.

The president said passenger transport between or through districts would be banned starting June 10 – after all learners in from schools have returned home – to limit the number of people crisscrossing the country, in the hope that this would reduce transmission rates.

Exception was only given to Kampala Metropolitan Area that consists of Kampala city, Mukono and Wakiso Districts.

The demand for transport was heightened by the closure of schools effective Monday 7, meaning that some 5 million children countrywide were sent home.

With no particular activity planned for the children, many opted to go to their upcountry homes to avoid both obvious and unforeseeable effects of the measures on their lives.

Others expected the cost of living to rise especially if the supply of food was interrupted.

By midday all bus terminals and taxi parks around Kampala were swarmed with intending travelers, while some stages were filled with stranded passengers.

Buses like Global, Kalita and Link doubled the fares to their destinations.

“Following the Presidential announcement on the suspension of Public Transport Travel (Buses) effective Thursday 10/June/2021, and given the fact that our buses will be returning from upcountry with no customers, for us to continue serving the people in this difficult time while observing SOPs, we have adjusted our Fares,” said Kayemba John, a Manager at Link Bus Company.

Fares by Link buses to medium destinations like Hoima, Masindi and Mubende doubled to Ushs 40,000 while tickets to Fort Portal and Kasese went up to Ushs 70,000, according to price lists displayed at their offices.

Kayemba says the fares from upcountry stations to Kampala remain unchanged.

Fares to Mbarara have risen to 50,000.

Alex Muhwezi, the Manager Global Bus Kampala Terminal says they had to drive empty buses from upcountry to Kampala to pick up people, hence the increment in fares.

Johnson Asiimwe, a supervisor with Gateway Bus Company says they want to negotiate with authorities to see if they can extend the deadline so that more people find their way out of the cities.

He says that if the daily number of the passengers elsewhere increases, they may have to deploy buses from other routes, because the Western Routes seem to have far more demand than those to other parts of the country.

Sharita Hamidu, the manager of Gateway Bakuli Terminal says that during the shutdown period, most of the people who have been deployed to handle the current situation, will be redundant, yet they will have to be maintained, adding that the increment in fares is also because of the Standard Operating Procedures set by the authorities.

On the contrary, taxi operators had not yet increased the fares, saying it was not necessary yet.