Masaka city, division leaders disagree on management of public transport

Masaka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Masaka city leaders are divided over the management of public transport in the area.

The dispute is pitying Florence Namayanja, the Masaka City Council Mayor, and Michael Mulindwa Nakumusana, the Chairperson of the Nyendo-Mukugwe Division who are bickering over fines levied on taxis operating from ungazetted parks and stages.

The misunderstanding arises from a pronouncement last week by the Mayor which suspended the impounding and charging of fines on taxis that operate outside the gazetted parks and stages within Masaka.

According to Namayanja, her office has received several complaints of highhandedness and rampant extortion by the enforcement teams leading to several vehicles being vandalized after they are impounded.

In November last year, authorities in Masaka city closed all illegal taxi parks and roadside stages in the area, and accordingly set a penalty of 200,000 Shillings for non-compliance.

Namayanja and a section of city councilors instructed the leadership of Masaka United Taxi Drivers and Owners’ Cooperative Society-MUTDOCS to halt their operations against non-complying taxis drivers, accusing them of cruelty.

She argued that despite the desire to reorganize the management of the public transport business in the area, the city leadership did not approve of the harsh approach of enforcing the policy.

Her position has however generated disagreement from the leaders of the Nyendo-Mukugwe division, who have described it as unreasoned and a contradiction to the decision of the City council.

Michael Mulindwa Nakumusana, the division Chairperson during the council session castigated Namayanja for singlehandedly making a pronouncement without consulting with the relevant stakeholders.

He indicated that besides reinstating chaos in business and trade order in the city, Namayanja’s statement will directly affect their local revenue collection targets because it halts the levying of fines that are contributing a monthly average of shillings 13 million to the city coffers.

Nakumusana warns that the uncoordinated statements by the leaders will plunge the city into unwanted confusion that will be dangerous to the local government, hence affecting service delivery.

Bashir Mawanda, the Chairperson of Masaka United Taxi Drivers and Owners’ Cooperative Society-MUTDOCS has also asked the Mayor to reconsider her pronouncement, threatening that it may incite all drivers to return to the roads and operate illegal stages.

He argues the Mayor was misguided by a few errant taxi operators who don’t want to observe the laws governing the transport industry.

But Namayanja insists that her leadership cannot tolerate brutality to continue in the area, indicating that besides charging ambiguous fines, the enforcement teams have been operating outside the legal processes.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi, the Masaka City Deputy Resident Commissioner has offered to arbitrate in the misunderstanding between the leaders.

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